Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: Reflections on Water

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 763 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17110
Turner Bequest CXCV 139

Catalogue entry

Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram is based on one by John Joshua Kirby (1716–74) in Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy; both in Theory and Practice (London 1768, vol.II, pl.XVI, fig.4). Kirby’s plate illustrates how to determine the reflection of an object in water. Turner’s diagram was most likely used to supplement already existing lecture material.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that the sheet is Imperial size Whatman paper made by Finch and Thomas Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, 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 ‘133’ bottom left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry