Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 40: Tuscan Column in Perspective


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 681 × 485 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 88

Technique and condition

Catalogue entry

In Lecture 3 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner presented a selection of methods for putting a square and various curved objects into perspective, and then moved on to discussing the architectural orders. Diagram 40 functions as an introduction of sorts to the Tuscan order, to be presented before he focused on the various parts, such the entablature, shaft, capital and pedestal. Turner writes that Tuscan is ‘the most simple of the orders in architecture’ and ‘according to Sir William Wootton’s simile it is labourer and therefore hope he will clear our road from the weedy limes which hitherto has encumbered our way that we can dispense with the plan and section and proceed by measures only’.1 The simile comes from Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639), poet, diplomat and afterwards Provost of Eton who provided a detailed description of the orders in The Elements of Architecture (1624).2 Turner habitually called him William or ‘Sir Billy’ and in his Verse Book (private collection) noted variants on the same dictum on the Tuscan order:
Sir Wm Wootton has compared
The Tuscan to the labourer hard
Sir William Wootton often said
Tuscan like to the labourer is made
And now as such is hardly used3
Turner presented a perspective construction of this Tuscan column in Diagram 41 (Tate D17060; Turner Bequest CXCV 90). See also Tate D17061 (Turner Bequest CXCV 91) for the preparatory drawing used to trace the diagram’s guiding lines.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 M folio 13 verso.
Wotton 1624, p.33.
Verse Book circa 1805–10; Andrew Wilton and Rosalind Mallord Turner, Painting & Poetry: Turner’s ‘Verse Book’ and his Work of 1804–1812, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, p.150.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is Super Royal size Whatman paper made by William Balston and Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent. Bower writes that ‘all sheets in this batch have some streaking across the sheet, probably from a fault in the sizing’.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘89’ top left.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop