Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 59: Pulteney Bridge, Bath, in Perspective (after Thomas Malton Junior)


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and tracing on paper
Support: 672 × 999 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 114

Display caption

For his final example of applied linear perspective, Turner presented a view of Pulteney Bridge in Bath, built by Robert Adam in the 1770s. He said this building was ‘not selected for the beauty of its architecture, but from its possessing the principles of the square and circle, and having columns and entablature in projecting colonnades’. He explained that once students understood the basic rules of perspective they could place ‘any building in perspective whatever as to form, size, proportion, order or arrangement’.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

This is the second and more eleborate of two depictions of Robert Adam’s Pulteney Bridge, Bath which Turner presented during Lecture 4 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. They were shown to demonstrate the application of parts of the architectural orders to ‘constitute a building’. For Turner’s source in a work by the younger Thomas Malton (1748–1804), and remarks on the subject, see notes to Diagram 58 (Tate D17083; Turner Bequest CXCV 113) which shows the method underpinning the perspective construction and which Turner traced to make the outline of the present drawing. See Tate D17081 (Turner Bequest CXCV 111) for a small perspective study of the same bridge; for tracings, see also Tate D17082 (Turner Bequest CXCV 112) and Tate D40007.
In this coloured version, there is strong light and shadow and Turner makes play with the reflections in the windows of the shops at street level.
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 in red watercolour ‘59’ top right.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

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