Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lecture Diagram: Perspective Method for a Cube by Joseph Highmore


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 546 × 760 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 18

Catalogue entry

This diagram illustrates a method for drawing a cube by the English painter and writer Joseph Highmore (1692–1780). Turner owned a copy of Highmore’s The Practice of Perspective, on the Principles of Dr Brook Taylor (1763), and used his diagram and description as the basis for his lecture material.1 Turner’s diagram was most likely used to supplement already existing lecture material when further examples of perspective were required. It corresponds to a section of Turner’s lecture manuscripts describing a wide variety of methods of perspective, which Maurice Davies believes to be the late, extended version of Turner’s history of techniques found in Lecture 3.2
Highmore 1763, pp.2–3; for Turner’s library see Andrew Wilton, Turner in His Time, London 1987, p.247.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 M AA folio 16, 17.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower writes that the sheet is Imperial size Whatman paper made by Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent. Bower notes: ‘This paper is very heavily sized and bears some relationship to the Parchment Substitute papers produced by various hand made papermakers in the nineteenth century (and into the twentieth) for legal documents. Sometimes papermakers don’t quite keep up their quality control. In the case of this particular sheet [and about nine others from the same batch that Turner also used for diagrams] the mould has been left, probably over night, 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 an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘45’ 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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