Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: Perspective Method for a Cube by Jan/Hans Vredeman de Vries

c.1823–8

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 544 x 755 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D16978
Turner Bequest CXCV 9

Catalogue entry

Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram illustrates a method for drawing a cube by Jan (Hans) Vredeman de Vries (1527–?1606) but was partly 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.XIX, fig.4) by John Joshua Kirby (1716–74). The section of lecture manuscript to which Turner’s diagram corresponds contains discussion of a wide variety of methods of perspective, which Maurice Davies considers to be the late, extended version of Turner’s history of techniques.1 The lecture material and diagram would have supplemented existing material on Vredeman de Vries’s method, such as Lecture Diagram 31 (Tate D17045; Turner Bequest CXCV 75).
1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 AA folio 12.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that the sheet is Imperial size Whatman paper made by Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Kent. Bower notes: ‘This paper is very heavily sized and bears some relationship to the Parchment Substitute papers produced by various hand made papermakers in the nineteenth century (and into the twentieth) for legal documents. Sometimes papermakers don’t quite keep up their quality control. In the case of this particular sheet [and about nine others from the same batch that Turner also used for diagrams] the mould has been left, probably overnight, without being cleaned and small amounts of pulp have dried between the support bars under the mould cover and the two layers of woven wire making up the cover. This affects the drainage of the sheet during formation and leaves a clear impression of the mould’s actual structure and construction’.1
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Verso:
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘36’ bottom left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

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