Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions by Turner: Bibliographical Notes on Perspective Sources; with a Diagram of a Cube in Perspective


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 87 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXIV 12

Catalogue entry

The page is taken up with the following notes, with a diagram of a cube in perspective half way down on the right:
Vignola 1644 Architect Serlio
[bracketed at the left with the previous line] M Marolois Hondius 1614
Andrea Pozzo
[?Smiths ...]
Pozzo opinion is that the distance [...] | be equal to the utmost dimension of the [...] | wether in breath or hight [sic]
The lines towards the end are rubbed and illegible towards the right-hand edge.
Maurice Davies has identified the source as notes on the history of perspective in Joshua Kirby’s Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy Both in Theory and Practice: see the 1754 Ipswich edition, Book II, pp.81–4,1 and the 1768 London edition, Book II, pp.88–92.2 There are other notes from the same source on folio 11 verso opposite, folio 13 verso, and folio 14 recto and verso (D07975, D07979–D07981).
Vignola’s method for drawing a cube, taken from Kirby, is shown on folio 13 verso (D07979); the note on Vignola here is as given in the 1754 edition, Book II, p.81.3 A diagram of a cube by his method is sketched on folio 13 verso (D07979). ‘Marolois Hondius 1614’ is given in the 1768 edition, Book II, p.88.4 Turner apparently wanted to familiarise himself with different opinions about angles of view, and examined ‘Ferguson, Pozzo and Hamilton among others’.5 Andrea Pozzo is mentioned in Kirby 1768, Book II, p.92, and was incorporated into early drafts of Turner’s fourth Royal Academy perspective lecture;6 there is a diagram of a cube after his method on folio 14 recto (D07980). ‘Hammilton’ is John Hamilton, author of Stereography, or, a Compleat Body of Perspective, in All Its Branches (London 1738), from which Turner made notes in the contemporary Perspective sketchbook (Tate D40670, D07381–D07386; Turner Bequest CVIII 15 verso, 16, 16a, 17, 17a, 18 recto, 18a).
For the dating of these and other notes made prior to Turner’s 1811 Royal Academy perspective lectures see the Introduction to the sketchbook.

Matthew Imms
January 2012

Davies 1994, p.306 note 3.
Ibid., p.290.
Ibid., p.93.
Ibid., p.96.
Ibid., p.178.
Ibid., p.322 note 103, citing Turner’s ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 I folio 29r.

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