Joseph Mallord William Turner

Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Giulio Troili


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 88 × 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVIII 54

Catalogue entry

Maurice Davies has identified the source of the diagram as Giulio Troili, Paradossi per Pratticare la Prospettiva senza Saperla, Bologna 1683, page 79, fig.2. Most of the inscription below it comes from the book’s full title,1 which continues: ‘fiori, per facilitare l’intelligenza, frutti, per non operare alla cieca’. The whole can be roughly translated from the Italian as ‘Paradoxes for practising perspective without knowing it: the flowers, in order to facilitate intelligence; the fruits, in order not to operate completely without information’.
Turner probably consulted the copy at the British Museum (since transferred to the British Library, London). He appears to have made a false start in copying the diagram, placing a diagonal across the whole face of the cube in the abandoned version on the left. There is another diagram apparently from the same source on folio 44 verso (D07430).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Davies 1994, p.289.

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