Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram: Reflections in a Transparent Globe circa 1810
Turner Bequest CXCV 177a
Turner Bequest CXCV 177a
Oil paint on white wove paper, 220 x 264 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
National Gallery, London, various dates to 1904 (608).
‘JMWT PP’: A Selection of Drawings Made by Turner to Illustrate his Royal Academy Lectures as Professor of Perspective, Tate Gallery, London, July 1980–January 1981 (29).
Vanishing Point: The Perspective Drawings of J.M.W. Turner, Tate Britain, London, May–November 2004 (not in catalogue).
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.596, CXCV 177a, as ‘177. Glass balls, partly filled with water’.
Judy Egerton [and Clifford Ellis], ‘JMWT PP’: A Selection of Drawings Made by Turner to Illustrate his Royal Academy Lectures as Professor of Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1980, p., as ‘Glass sphere’.
Thomas H. Coolsen, ‘Phryne and the Orators: Decadence and Art in Ancient Greece and Modern Britain’, Turner Studies, vol.7 no1, Summer 1987, pp.7, 10 note 33.
Maurice Davies, Turner as Professor: The Artist and Linear Perspective, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery London 1992, p.53, reproduced fig.52.
Maurice William Davies, ‘J.M.W. Turner’s Approach to Perspective in His Royal Academy Lectures of 1811’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, Courtauld Institute of Art, London 1994, p.265.
Turner produced this drawing of a transparent globe, along with others of globes made of different materials (Tate D17147, D40024–D40026; Turner Bequest CXCV 176, 177b–d), for a lecture on ‘reflexies’ (reflections) and their relationship to light and shade, to be given as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. These diagrams are not numbered, but Turner clearly refers to them in a manuscript used for lecturing in 1811.1 As Maurice Davies records, this diagram and three others (Tate D40024–40026) were once on a single sheet.2 A reference by Finberg to a single diagram numbered 177 of ‘glass balls, partly filled with water’ suggests that the larger sheet was still intact in 1909. Sketches of the globes can be found in Turner’s first draft of the lecture (private collection). For Turner’s discussion of reflecting spheres in Lecture 5, and its possible influence on his friend John Soane, see notes to D17147.
Thomas Coolsen cites this reflecting globe in relation to Turner’s depictions of bubbles and globes in pictures painted in the 1830s, and his interest in theories of prismatic colour.
Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation
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