Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Measured Diagram; Elevations and the Floor Plan of a House

c.1823–4

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D40962

Catalogue entry

Pages such as this, with small ad hoc working diagrams, are scattered through Turner’s sketchbooks; like his terser written notes, they can be difficult to interpret. Inverted relative to the book’s foliation, down the right-hand side are two rough elevations of a small, symmetrical two-storey building (probably a house), and a floor plan including stairs. There is no indication as to whether the structure is real or a form of elaborate doodle.
In the middle of the page is a diagram comprising a triangular outline with horizontal divisions and an area of more complexity at the lower centre. The very specific numbering suggests measurements of a real object or plot of land, whether in inches, feet or yards. A plan of the bows of a boat or ship may be a possibility; compare the diagrams of what seem to be sails inside the front cover of the contemporary London Bridge and Portsmouth sketchbook (Turner Bequest CCVI; D40966).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Read full Catalogue entry

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