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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Lecture Diagram 15: The Terminology of Perspective of Dr Brook Taylor c.1810

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram 15: The Terminology of Perspective of Dr Brook Taylor circa 1810
Turner Bequest CXCV 59
Watercolour on white wove paper, 677 x 1015 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN | 1808’
Inscribed by Turner in red watercolour ‘15’ top left and ‘Dr Brook V Taylor’ top centre and in red and black watercolour ‘V Point’, ‘Horizotal [sic] Plane’, ‘Vertical and Perpendicular | Planes’, ‘Center [sic] Point’, ‘Point of Sight | Center [sic] of the Picture’, ‘Lines Original to produce the Figure’, ‘and Vanishing Lines’, ‘Original Points | for the figure’, ‘Original Line | for | Measures of Figures’, ‘Ground & Base Line’ and ‘Station Point | Place of the | Spectator’ at various points within diagram
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘59’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Diagram 15 forms part of Turner’s discussion, in Lecture 2 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, of the terminology of perspective.1 The drawing illustrates terminology used by the mathematician Dr Brook Taylor (1685–1731) in his Linear Perspective: Or, A New Method of Representing Justly all Manner of Objects as They Appear to the Eye in all Situations (1715). However, Maurice Davies states that while the diagram lists terminology used by Taylor, there is no similar diagram in his treatise.2
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 L folio 4. For earlier versions of the lecture text, see D folio 3 and E folio 5 verso–7.
Davies 1994, p.299 note 46.
Technical notes:
The sheet conforms to others in the series identified by Peter Bower as Double Elephant size Whatman paper made by William Balston, at Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent. The largest group within the perspective drawings, this batch of paper shows a ‘grid-like series of shadows that can be seen within the sheet in transmitted light. This appears to have been caused by a trial method of supporting the woven wire mould cover on the mould’. Because this is the only batch he has seen with such a feature, Bower believes that ‘it may have been tried on one pair of moulds and for some reason never tried again’. He also writes that it is ‘not the best Whatman paper by any means; the weight of this group is also very variable and the moulds have not been kept clean during use’.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Currently laid down.

Andrea Fredericksen
June 2004

Supported by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Revised by David Blayney Brown
January 2012

How to cite

Andrea Fredericksen, ‘Lecture Diagram 15: The Terminology of Perspective of Dr Brook Taylor c.1810 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2004, revised by David Blayney Brown, 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-lecture-diagram-15-the-terminology-of-perspective-of-dr-r1136479, accessed 19 January 2022.