Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 8/1: Ground Plan of a Stoa or Portico (after James Stuart)

c.1810

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 1000 x 672 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17140
Turner Bequest CXCV 169

Display caption

Turner used this ground plan of a classical stoa or portico to show the vantage point, indicated by the word ‘eye’ at the bottom, used for the next two diagrams (shown to the right). A comparison of the drawings allowed him to illustrate how some free-standing columns (circles) and attached columns (squares) are obscured in a side elevation of the building.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

As Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner used part of Lecture 1 to show his students why their draughtsmanship would benefit from an understanding of the subject. To achieve this he produced three diagrams (see also Tate D17141 and D17142; Turner Bequest CXCV 170, 171) based on illustrations from James ‘Athenian’ Stuart’s and Nicholas Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens (1762, vol.I, chap.V. pls II and IV). This four-volume treatise had inspired the revival of the Greek architectural style in Europe and North America by providing motifs and designs of previously-undocumented classical buildings. Stuart and Revett used measured plans and elevations to illustrate the exact layout and dimensions of each structure. Although Turner praises the publication as ‘a most respectable work,’ he argues that such geometrical drawings have their limitations and that draughtsmen should also prepare perspective views to present a varied and more accurate impression of a building in its surrounding space.1
Diagram 8/1 is a ground plan of a classical building described by Stuart and Revett as ‘a stoa or portico, commonly supposed to be the remains of the Temple of Jupiter Olympus’ (the Olympieion). The plan allows Turner to show the vantage point (indicated by the word ‘eye’ at the bottom) used in his other two diagrams of this structure. A comparison of the drawings enables him to reveal how some free-standing columns (circles) and attached columns (squares) are obscured in a side elevation of the building. He does not discuss the issue in the version of Lecture 1 delivered in 1811, although a reference made in pencil to ‘Stuart’s Athens Drawing’ in the margin of his text indicates that he may have introduced the topic in subsequent revisions of the material.2 A later manuscript also used for lecturing refers directly to all three diagrams.3 The material is also discussed in a lecture manuscript titled ‘Light, Shade, and Reflexies’.4 There is a preliminary sketch in a manuscript filled with Turner’s notes.5
1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 J folio 12.
2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 K folio 13 verso.
3
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 J folio 13.
4
Private collection, folios 21–2.
5
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 BB folio 33.
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry