Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tracing of an Elevation of a Stoa or Portico

c.1810

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Tracing on paper
Dimensions
Support: 550 x 762 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17132
Turner Bequest CXCV 161

Technique and condition

This lecture diagram on white wove Whatman paper shows three identical columns topped by an entablature, with the horizontal lines of the blocks of the wall behind the colonnade ruled in graphite pencil, and a fourth column indicated only by its base.
This is an upper copy of a lost original, as is Classical Columns (Tate D17142; Turner Bequest CXCV 171). Another copy from a similar original is Part of Classical Buildings, with Columns (Tate D17141; Turner Bequest CXCV 170). The present work was made by a copying process which Turner used to generate a limited number of copies from other lecture diagrams. It is rare that all or even most stages of the process survive, and there is no complete set in the Turner Bequest, since these materials were presumably transported to and used for a number of lectures over the years. He needed several copies so that he could if he chose illustrate the drawing of a single element such as a column alone, then later with perspectival lines going to a single point, or built up to a colonnade of identical columns, or used to illustrate the way to make a smooth column look three-dimensional by shading. He could also use such a colonnade to form part of the elevation of a building, as in this example.
The process seems to have involved placing a blank sheet on a table, overlaying double-sided copying paper, followed by another blank sheet, another sheet of double-sided copying paper, and the image to be copied. In this case it would have been either a single column or a four-column colonnade, drawn in outline. Then he pressed down hard on each ruled line of the top copy with a sharp tool run against a ruler, and unpacked the paper stack to reveal one good and one pale copy, with little smudging on the 'good' sides. If necessary, he strengthened straight lines in the copies, which would both be identical and not reversed, and then he hand-applied the curved elements freehand as necessary and/or painted the lines to make them bold enough to demonstrate to a large audience in a room lit artificially. Sets of copies identified thus far include: Building in Perspective (Tate D17051; CXCV 81) which is an upper copy of a lost original and A House in Perspective, Lecture Diagram 36 (D17052; CXCV 82), and Building (D17053; CXCV 83) which are both lower copies of comparable originals; the original Column (D17061; CXCV 91) which was used to make Tuscan Column in Perspective, Lecture Diagram 40 (D17058; CXCV 88) as the upper copy and Perspective Construction of a Tuscan Column, Lecture Diagram 41 (D17060; CXCV 90) as the lower copy; Tracing of Guiding Lines of Diagram of Capital, Tuscan Entablature Worked Out in Perspective (D17077; CXCV 107) which was used as the original for the copies Capital, Tuscan Entablature Worked Out in Perspective (D17076; CXCV 106) and Tuscan entablature (D17079; CXCV 109); and the group discussed here.

Julia Jönsson
January 2007

Revised by Joyce Townsend
March 2011

Catalogue entry

This incomplete tracing was made from Diagram 8/3 (Tate D17142; Turner Bequest CXCV 171), a side elevation of a stoa or portico after James Stuart, used during Turner’s lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. For a related but faint outline of the subject see Tate D17118; Turner Bequest CXCV 147.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower (unpublished notes)1 states that the sheet is Small Imperial size Whatman made by William Balston and Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent.
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Verso:
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘155’ top right.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like