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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Lecture Diagram: 'Euclid's Elements of Geometry', Book 4, Propositions 11, 13, 14, and 15 c.1817-28

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Lecture Diagram: ‘Euclid’s Elements of Geometry’, Book 4, Propositions 11, 13, 14, and 15 circa 1817–28
Turner Bequest CXCV 23
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 677 x 983 mm
Watermarked ‘1794 | J WHATMAN’
Inscribed by Turner in red watercolour ‘8’ top left and ‘Pentagon’, ‘Hexagon’ and ‘Triangle’ along bottom, in black watercolour ‘No 1’ top left and ‘No 2’ top right, in red and black watercolour with various initial letters within diagram and in pencil ‘?Pen 14’ top left, ‘13’ [twice] top centre, ‘14’ centre left and ‘Pro 15’ bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘23’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Prepared in connection with his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Turner’s diagram is based on illustrations from Samuel Cunn’s Euclid’s Elements of Geometry (London 1759, Book 4). The top left and right figures represent Proposition 11: ‘Problem. To describe an equilateral and equiangular pentagon in a given circle’.1 The top centre diagram represents Proposition 13: ‘Problem. To describe a circle in an equilateral and equiangular pentagon’.2 The bottom left diagram represents Proposition 14: ‘Problem. To describe a circle about a given equilateral and equiangular pentagon’.3 The bottom centre diagram seems based on Proposition 15, which is illustrated in another diagram (Tate D17002; Turner Bequest CXCV 32), while that at bottom right is untraced. There are pencil sketches of each in Turner’s lecture notes.4
Cunn 1759, pp.110–11.
Ibid., pp.113–14.
Ibid., p.115.
Turner, ‘Royal Academy Lectures’, circa 1807–38, Department of Western Manuscripts, British Library, London, ADD MS 46151 V folios 23 verso, 25, 26.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower states that the sheet is Double Elephant size Whatman paper made by William Balston and Finch and Thomas Robert Hollingworth, at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent.1
Notes in Tate catalogue files.
Blank, save for an inscription by an unknown hand in pencil ‘56’ 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: ‘Euclid’s Elements of Geometry’, Book 4, Propositions 11, 13, 14, and 15 c.1817–28 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-euclids-elements-of-geometry-book-4-r1136715, accessed 29 February 2020.