John Joshua Kirby

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John Joshua Kirby by Thomas Gainsborough c.1755
'Sarah Kirby (née Bull) and John Joshua Kirby, by Thomas Gainsborough.

John Joshua Kirby (1716, Wickham Market – 1774, Kew), was an 18th-century landscape painter, engraver, writer, draughtsman and architect[1] from the United Kingdom, famed for his pamphlet on linear perspective based on Brook Taylor's mathematics.


Satire on false perspective, showing all of the common mistakes artists make in perspective, by Hogarth, 1753

He was the son of topographer John Kirby, the father of the writer Sarah Trimmer, and uncle of the entomologist William Kirby.[2] Kirby was made an honorary member of the painter William Hogarth's instructional project, the St Martin’s Lane Academy, where he lectured on perspective. Hogarth later made his famous print, Satire on False Perspective, as the frontispiece to Kirby's famous pamphlet published in 1754 called Dr. Brook Taylor's Method of Perspective made Easy both in Theory and Practice. The pamphlet was very popular and was reprinted several times. It remained a standard work until Thomas Malton published his, in 1771.[3] His fame became such that it gained Kirby a royal appointment.

According to the RKD he moved in 1755 to London, and then in 1760 he moved to Kew, where he taught linear perspective to George III of the United Kingdom.[4] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1767.[5]

He died in Kew in 1774 and was buried in the churchyard of St Anne's Church, Kew.[6]


  1. ^ "(John) Joshua Kirby (1716-1774), Artist and teacher of linear perspective; friend of Thomas Gainsborough". Collections. National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Life of the rev. William Kirby by John Freeman. Ed. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1852.
  3. ^ Owen, Felicity. "Kirby, Joshua". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15646.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ John Joshua Kirby in the RKD
  5. ^ "Library and Archive catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  6. ^ Geer, Samuel Taylor (10 August 2011). "John Joshua Kirby". Find a Grave. Retrieved 16 January 2013.