Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: Building in Perspective with Vanishing Lines


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 735 × 1028 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 137

Catalogue entry

Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram is partly based on one by John Joshua Kirby (1716–74) in Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy; both in Theory and Practice (London 1768, vol.II, pl.XIII, fig.4).Turner probably used it to supplement existing lecture material. It appears related to the series of diagrams illustrating how to draw a house or rectangular object in perspective which he used for his history of techniques in Lecture 3 (Tate D17049–D17053).
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that this diagram is on two Imperial size sheets of Whatman paper glued together with a slight overlap. They were made by Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent. This type of paper is ‘very heavily sized and bears some relationship to the Parchment Substitute papers produced by various hand made papermakers later in the nineteenth century (and into the twentieth) for legal documents’. Bower writes that the paper also shows that ‘the mould [had] been left, probably overnight, without being cleaned and small amounts of pulp have dried between the support bars under the mould cover and the two layers of woven wire making up the cover. This affects the drainage of the sheet during formation and leaves a clear impression of the mould’s actual structure and construction’.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Blank, save for inscriptions by John Ruskin in red ink ‘137’ bottom centre and by unknown hands in pencil ‘137?’ and ‘131’ bottom left and ‘131’ bottom centre

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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