J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Giulio Troili c.1809

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 54 Recto:
Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Giulio Troili circa 1809
Turner Bequest CVIII 54
Pen and ink on white wove paper, 88 x 115 mm
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘Gulio Trolli’ top centre and ‘[?by descent in ...] | Senza Saperla | Per Non operare alla Cieca’ below diagram, towards bottom
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘54’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CVIII – 54’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Maurice Davies has identified the source of the diagram as Giulio Troili, Paradossi per Pratticare la Prospettiva senza Saperla, Bologna 1683, page 79, fig.2. Most of the inscription below it comes from the book’s full title,1 which continues: ‘fiori, per facilitare l’intelligenza, frutti, per non operare alla cieca’. The whole can be roughly translated from the Italian as ‘Paradoxes for practising perspective without knowing it: the flowers, in order to facilitate intelligence; the fruits, in order not to operate completely without information’.
Turner probably consulted the copy at the British Museum (since transferred to the British Library, London). He appears to have made a false start in copying the diagram, placing a diagonal across the whole face of the cube in the abandoned version on the left. There is another diagram apparently from the same source on folio 44 verso (D07430).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Davies 1994, p.289.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Giulio Troili c.1809 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2008, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-diagram-of-a-cube-in-perspective-after-giulio-troili-r1136645, accessed 20 October 2021.