View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Carlton House (remodelled by Henry Holland 1783–1805; demolished 1827) in Pall Mall was the London residence of George IV. He was granted the property as Prince of Wales in 1783 and occupied it as Regent and then as King for forty-two years. The site is now occupied by Waterloo Place and the Institute of Directors (formerly the United Services Club) and Athenaeum Club on either side.
This very large drawing was made in connection with Turner’s lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. Turner discusses Carlton House in a section of Lecture 1 related to architectural drawing.1 Alluding to current debates on the respective merits of geometric elevations and perspective drawings, Turner explains that while ‘perspective delineation’ may aid the architect’s cause, he must be careful when applying light, shadow or colour to drawings, as these qualities ‘may appear to some like truth and lead others to suppose that any building happily proportioned geometric must appear so when executed, and those parts which seem to rise higher by the aid of a lighter tone will be so lofty when built’.2
Although Turner has not given this diagram a number, it is clearly relevant to the lecture as delivered in 1811 since it provides him with an example of how pictorial effects can distort the appearance of a building.3 A comparison to a view of Carlton House drawn in outline only (Tate D17143; Turner Bequest CXCV 172), which he traced to make this more elaborate version, reveals how such effects can make parts appear too monumental. Another comparison to a similar view of the Admiralty in Whitehall (Tate D17144; Turner Bequest 173) demonstrates how shading and colour can misrepresent the relationship between the buildings’ screen and main structure. Turner did not offer these illustrations as appropriate models for students to follow, but rather as examples of why students should learn the proper rules of perspective.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 C folio12 and verso and K folio 15–16 verso and J folio14 verso.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 K folios 16 and verso.
Davies 1994, p.252.