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 Jean Dubreuil 1809

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 14 Verso:
Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Jean Dubreuil 1809
Turner Bequest CXIV 14a
Pencil on white wove paper, 87 x 117 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Videman Frize’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Maurice Davies has identified the source as notes on the history of perspective in Joshua Kirby’s Dr Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy Both in Theory and Practice: see the 1754 Ipswich edition, Book II, pp.81–4,1 and the 1768 London edition, Book II, pp.88–92.2 There are other notes from the same source on folios 11 verso, 12 recto, 13 verso and 14 recto (D07975, D07976, D07979, D07980).
Although the present diagram is labelled ‘Videman Frize’ by Turner, it does not show a perspective method by Jan (Hans) Vredeman de Vries (1527–circa 1606), the Dutch painter and architectural designer, but rather Kirby’s diagram illustrating a method attributed to Jean Dubreuil or ‘the Jesuit’ (1602–1670), as given in Kirby 1768, Book II, pl.XIX, fig.5,3 whereas fig.4 shows Vredeman de Vries’s method, as noted by Andrea Fredericksen in her catalogue entry for Turner’s perspective lecture diagram labelled ‘Jesuit’ (Tate D16983; Turner Bequest CXCV 14) which shows the same method as the present sketch, and indicates that Turner corrected himself later in his preparations. For lecture diagram actually based on Vredeman de Vries, see Tate D16978 and D17045 (Turner Bequest CXCV 9, 75).
For the dating of these and other notes made prior to Turner’s 1811 Royal Academy perspective lectures see the Introduction to the sketchbook.

Matthew Imms
January 2012

Davies 1994, p.306 note 3.
Ibid., p.290.
Ibid., pp.96–7, 310 note 73.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Diagram of a Cube in Perspective, after Jean Dubreuil 1809 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2012, 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-jean-dubreuil-r1134757, accessed 28 January 2022.