Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 32: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Pietro Accolti)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 673 × 1004 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 76

Display caption

This diagram shows a perspective method for a cube proposed by Pietro Accolti, an Italian painter, architect for the Medici Family and author of Lo Inganno de gl'occhi Propettiva Practica 1625. Turner incorrectly dates Accolti's three-part treatise to 1643.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner prepared Diagram 32 for Lecture 3 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. It illustrates a perspective method for drawing a cube proposed by Pietro Accolti (1579–1642), an Italian painter, architect for the Medici family and author of Lo Inganno de gl’occhi, Prospettiva Pratica (1625, cap.XXXIV, p.46). During his research for his lectures, Turner made two sketches based on Accolti in his Perspective sketchbook (Tate D07432, D07434; Turner Bequest CVIII 45 verso, 46 verso). Maurice Davies observes that although Turner provides increasing detail in each version of Lecture 3, he fails to give a real sense of Accolti’s method.1
Davies 1994, p.92; Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 A folios 15 verso–16 (with sketch), F folio 3 and M.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is Double Elephant size Whatman paper made by William Balston, at Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent. The largest group within the perspective drawings, this batch of paper shows a ‘grid-like series of shadows that can be seen within the sheet in transmitted light. This appears to have been caused by a trial method of supporting the woven wire mould cover on the mould’. Because this is the only batch he has seen with such a feature, Bower believes that ‘it may have been tried on one pair of moulds and for some reason never tried again’. He also writes that it is ‘not the best Whatman paper by any means; the weight of this group is also very variable and the moulds have not been kept clean during use’.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘78’ bottom left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

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