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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Lecture Diagram 25: Analysis of the Perspective Representation of a Row of Pillars Parallel and Close to the Picture Plane c.1810

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram 25: Analysis of the Perspective Representation of a Row of Pillars Parallel and Close to the Picture Plane circa 1810
D17039
Turner Bequest CXCV 69
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 668 x 995 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN |1808’
Inscribed by Turner in red watercolour ‘25’ top left
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘69’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner devoted a section of Lecture 2 to the shortcomings of standard perspective. Although no reference to a diagram numbered ‘25’ is given in the version delivered by Turner in 1811, the drawing is clearly related to his discussion of Bernard Lamy’s treatment of the three column problem as presented in Perspective Made Easie (1702) and a sketch for it is in the margin of the lecture manuscript.1 Maurice Davies writes that Diagram 25 is partly based on illustrations from Lamy’s treatise (1710, pls.20 and 21), but is mostly Turner’s own design.2 It works closely with an unnumbered diagram also based on Lamy’s discussion and illustrations (Tate D17117; Turner Bequest CXCV 146).
1
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 L folio 13. For an earlier version of the lecture text, see D folios 7–8.
2
Davies 1992, p.41.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is 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
1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Verso:
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘71’ bottom left.

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 25: Analysis of the Perspective Representation of a Row of Pillars Parallel and Close to the Picture Plane 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-25-analysis-of-the-perspective-r1136490, accessed 19 May 2022.