Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: A Method for Determining the Height of the Eye when Preparing a Picture


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 585 x 700 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 5

Catalogue entry

Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram is based on a plate from Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy; both in Theory and Practice: in Two Books (London 1768, vol.II, pl.II, fig.1) by John Joshua Kirby (1716–74). Kirby used it to describe a method for determining the height of the eye when preparing a picture.1 Turner’s diagram corresponds to a section in his lecture notes containing discussion of a wide variety of methods of perspective, which Maurice Davies considers to be the late, extended version of Turner’s history of techniques.2
Kirby 1768, Book II, p.5.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 AA folios 5 verso–6.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that the sheet is Elephant size Whatman paper made by Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent.1
Notes in Tate Catalogue files.
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘32’ 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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