Joseph William Turner, Interior of a Prison, Lecture Diagram 65

Tate Gallery, London

Date: c.1810
Technique: Gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper, 487 x 687 mm

This drawing is one of a series which Turner made to illustrate the lectures he delivered as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, a post held between 1807 and 1828. The influence of Piranesi's etchings is at its most pronounced here. The Italian printmaker's fantastical images of the imposing architecture of ancient Rome became very popular in Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century, and Turner had been engaged to copy some examples during the mid-1790s. In a particularly remarkable series,'I Carceri' (The Prisons), Piranesi grimly depicted the interiors of imaginary prisons. Here Turner adapted this Sublime genre to demonstrate the behaviour of shadows to his audience.


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