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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Lecture Diagram 32: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Pietro Accolti) c.1810

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram 32: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Pietro Accolti) circa 1810
Turner Bequest CXCV 76
Pencil and watercolour and on white wove paper, 673 x 1004 mm
Watermarked ‘J WHATMAN | 1808’
Inscribed by Turner in red watercolour ‘32’ top left and ‘ACCOLOTTI’ and ‘1643’ towards bottom left and right respectively, and in black watercolour with letters ‘H’, ‘C’, ‘HT’, ‘B’, ‘CT’ and ‘PT’ within diagram
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘76’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner prepared Diagram 32 for Lecture 3 as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy. It illustrates a perspective method for drawing a cube proposed by Pietro Accolti (1579–1642), an Italian painter, architect for the Medici family and author of Lo Inganno de gl’occhi, Prospettiva Pratica (1625, cap.XXXIV, p.46). During his research for his lectures, Turner made two sketches based on Accolti in his Perspective sketchbook (Tate D07432, D07434; Turner Bequest CVIII 45 verso, 46 verso). Maurice Davies observes that although Turner provides increasing detail in each version of Lecture 3, he fails to give a real sense of Accolti’s method.1
Davies 1994, p.92; Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 A folios 15 verso–16 (with sketch), F folio 3 and M.
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
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘78’ 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 32: Perspective Method for a Cube (after Pietro Accolti) 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-32-perspective-method-for-a-cube-after-r1136498, accessed 25 June 2022.