Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 34: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Andrea Pozzo)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 672 × 998 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 78

Display caption

Andrea Pozzo was an Italian artist known for combining painting, architecture and sculpture in his decoration of church interiors to create complex and imaginative illusions of space. Towards the end of his career, Pozzo published Perspectiva Pictorum et Architectorum 1693-1700 where he discussed perspectival painting and stage design using examples from his own work. The book enjoyed great acclaim, and was at one point translated into Chinese.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner prepared Diagram 34 for Lecture 3 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. It illustrates a method for a perspective representation of a cube proposed by Andrea Pozzo (1642–1709), an Italian painter, architect and stage designer who published his designs in Perspectiva pictorum et architectorum (1693–1700). Turner derived his understanding of Pozzo’s method from John Joshua Kirby’s Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective made Easy, both in Theory and in Practice (1765, II, p.63; pl.XIX, fig.7), of which he owned a copy that had come to him from his friend Henry Scott Trimmer, a descendant of the author. In his early research of the method, Turner wrote Pozzo’s name and drew a diagram based on Kirby (1768, II, pl.XIX, fig.6) in his Windmill and Lock sketchbook (Tate D07976, D07980; Turner Bequest CXIV 12, 14). As Maurice Davies observes, the diagram in the sketchbook omitted the ground plan and consequently Turner made an error in the preliminary draft for his lecture1 which he corrected in the final version.2 Later, Turner added new material on Pozzo and produced a fresh diagram (Tate D16984; Turner Bequest CXCV 15).3
Davies 1994, p.97; Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 A folio 18.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 M folio 6 verso; see also F folio 4.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 AA folios 14, 15.
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 ‘80’ 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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