Joseph Mallord William Turner

Perspective Study of a Doric Entablature


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 306 × 488 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV 98

Display caption

Turner carried out a painstaking geometrical construction to produce this perspective representation of an entablature. He set off measurements of parts of the entablature on a line running across the top of the sheet and used these to give a plan of the entablature in perspective. The completed perspective view was then built up below the plan.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner drew this Doric entablature as a preparatory study for diagrams to show during his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. It is partly based on an illustration in A Compleat Treatise on Perspective in Theory and Practice on the Principles of Dr Brook Taylor (1775, pl.XVIII, fig.86) by the elder Thomas Malton (1726–1801).1 Discussing its preparation, Maurice Davies explains that Turner
selected a perspective centre point near to the bottom right-hand corner of the sheet and set off accurate measurements of the entablature on a horizontal line across the top of the drawing. He used these to produce, near the top of the sheet, a plan of the object in perspective. This plan was built up with great care and includes details such as the exact position of each part of each triglyph. He constructed the final representation of the entablature directly beneath the plan and then added the shadows.2
Davies adds that the shadows do not seem to have been geometrically constructed, but were done most likely by eye.
Davies 1994, p.118.
Davies 1992, p.58.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is Royal Laid size paper made by Joseph Portal and William Bridges, at Bere or Laverstoke Mills, Hampshire.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.

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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