Joseph Mallord William TurnerLecture Diagram: Geometry of Standard Perspective as the Intersection of the Cone of Vision c.1816-28

Share this artwork

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Lecture Diagram: Geometry of Standard Perspective as the Intersection of the Cone of Vision
Date c.1816-28
MediumGraphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 480 x 600 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16971
Turner Bequest CXCV 2
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram: Geometry of Standard Perspective as the Intersection of the Cone of Vision circa 1816–28
D16971
Turner Bequest CXCV 2
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 480 x 600 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN | 1816’
Inscribed by Turner in black watercolour over pencil with various initial letters within diagram
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘2’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram is based on a plate from Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy; both in Theory and Practice: in Two Books (London 1768, vol.II, pl.I, fig.1) by John Joshua Kirby (1716–74). Turner paraphrases portions of Kirby’s accompanying text in two different manuscripts. The first appears in a manuscript used for lecturing, perhaps in 1819.1 Another passage occurs in a manuscript which, in the opinion of Maurice Davies, ‘may have been used to support other lecture texts when examples of perspective were required. It is almost certainly later than 1821 as many of the related diagrams are on paper watermarked 1823’.2 This second passage on ‘definitions and axioms’ begins a section describing a wide variety of methods of perspective, which Davies considers to be a later, extended version of Turner’s history of perspective techniques. Here Turner defines point of sight, original object, vanishing line, vanishing point, plane and many other terms.
1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 Z folios 2–5. On the lecture manuscript, see Maurice William Davies, ‘J.M.W. Turner’s Approach to Perspective in His Royal Academy Lectures of 1811’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, London 1994, p.279.
2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 AA folios 5, 5 verso; Davies 1994, p.280. See also John Gage, Colour in Turner; Poetry and Truth, London 1969, p.249 note 170 for a claim that MS AA may have been the first lecture of 1821.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that sheet is Royal size Whatman paper made by William Balston, at Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent.1
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Verso:
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘31’ bottom left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

About this artwork