Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 49: Pedestal of the Column of Antoninus Pius


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 643 × 985 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 96

Catalogue entry

This is the second of two diagrams depicting the pedestal of the Column of Antoninus Pius, Rome, made for Turner’s lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. The other is Diagram 48 (Tate D17065; Turner Bequest CXCV 95) which, though representing a different aspect of the structure, Turner seems to have traced to make the guiding lines for the present drawing; see catalogue notes to D17065 for historical background. Here, Turner shows two sides of the pedestal with carved reliefs, that on the left depicting cavalry surrounding soldiers carrying standards and that on the right showing the apotheosis of Antoninus, with a winged genius carrying the Emperor and his wife Faustina heavenwards.
The relief of cavalry in particular had long been the subject of criticism for its unnatural perspective and combination of ground-level and bird’s eye viewpoints. Turner discusses the pedestal in a draft partly related to Lecture 4.1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 M folio 32 verso.
Technical notes:
According to Peter Bower, Diagram 49, unlike other large scale works for which Turner used Double Elephant paper, is a cut-down Whatman Antiquarian sheet which has ‘been radically trimmed, mainly along the top edge and the two sides’. There are two other heavily trimmed Antiquarian sheets amongst the perspective drawings: Tate D17065 (Turner Bequest CXCV 95), which has the drawing traced from the present one noted above; and Tate D17147 (Turner Bequest CXCV 176). There is also one complete sheet (Tate D17117; Turner Bequest CXCV 146). He writes that the three may be ‘outside’ sheets, since all contain much process dirt and this diagram shows some size spotting. He explains that ‘they were made on a mould that has been left to sit after use without being properly cleaned: pulp has dried between the wire and the struts, acting as a block to the drainage of the pulp during the formation of the sheet. This produces a kind of accidental watermark, where the pulp lies thinner above the struts, particularly visible in this sheet as “white” lines running though it’. Antiquarian was the ‘only size of paper made by any of the various makers of Whatman paper which was ever watermarked with JAMES rather than J, and with the word KENT added to TURKEY MILL’.1
Bower 1990, pp.109–11.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

Read full Catalogue entry


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