Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram 8/3: Elevation of a Stoa or Portico (after James Stuart)

c.1810

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 590 × 724 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17142
Turner Bequest CXCV 171

Display caption

After presenting the side elevation rendered in simple outline form, Turner used this drawing to show the same view but now with aspects of ‘atmospheric’ perspective, such as colour and shading. While these pictorial effects lend the scene a greater sense of depth, the drawing still does not reveal how many columns are along the front of the building. Turner ultimately argued that students should avoid applying perspective features to an elevation drawing. The two, he suggests, are equally important but should remain separate.

Gallery label, September 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Technique and condition

Catalogue entry

Finberg mistook the subject of this diagram for the colonnade of Carlton House, London, for which see Diagram 8/9 (Tate D17143; Turner Bequest CXCV 172). Instead, it is a side elevation of a classical stoa or portico based on plates published in James ‘Athenian’ Stuart’s and Nicholas Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens (1762, vol.I, chap.V, pls.II and IV). It is one of three diagrams made by Turner from these illustrations for his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy (see also Tate D17140 and D17141; Turner Bequest CXCV 169, 170). Stuart and Revett describe the building as one ‘commonly supposed to be the remains of the Temple of Jupiter Olympus’ (the Olympieion).
After presenting his second illustration, a side elevation rendered in simple outline (D17141), Turner shows another view of the same building, now with colour and shading. He hopes his examples will deter students from applying atmospheric perspective to their geometric drawings in a quest to receive the Academy’s prize ‘Premium’ in architecture.1 While these pictorial effects lend the scene more spatial depth, the drawing still does not convey the number of columns along the building’s front. Hence Turner argues that geometric drawings and perspective views, while equally important, should remain separate.
Turner does not discuss Stuart and Revett’s plan or elevations in the version of Lecture 1 delivered in 1811, although a reference to ‘Stuart’s Athens Drawing’ pencilled in the margins of the text indicates that he may have introduced the topic in subsequent re-workings of the material.2 A later manuscript also used for lecturing refers directly to all three diagrams.3 Turner also discusses the material in lecture manuscript titled ‘Light, Shade, and Reflexies’.4 There is a preliminary sketch in a manuscript filled with Turner’s notes.5
1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 J folio 12.
2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 K folio 13.
3
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 J folio 13.
4
Private collection, folio 21–22.
5
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 BB folio 33.
Verso:
Indications of transfer process (see Tate D40015).

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