Joshua Kirby’s main claim to fame rests on his book, Method of Perspective, or, to give its full title in the 18th century way, `Dr. Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy, Both in Theory and Practice. In Two Books. Being an Attempt to make the Art of Perspective easy and familiar; To Adapt it intirely to the Arts of Design; And To make it an entertaining Study to any Gentleman who shall chuse so polite an Amusement’.
A textbook on perspective may not seem an obvious sequel to his previous antiquarian volume, `An Historical Account of the Twelve Prints of Monasteries, Castles, antient churches, and Monuments, in the County of Suffolk’. While the earlier work had been successful, it was targeted at a Suffolk audience of clergymen, gentry, and local politicians. The Method of Perspective drew in an quite different subscriber list, as we shall see, despite Kirby’s remaining attention to ‘Gentlemen’ and their Amusements. By this time, 1754, Kirby was good friends with both the young Thomas Gainsborough, and the much older William Hogarth. Hogarth supported the endeavor. In his own book, Analysis of Beauty, published in 1753, the only mention of perspective is to give a reference to Kirby’s forthcoming work. More famously, Hogarth supplied the eccentric, and wonderful, frontispiece to Kirby’s book, the Satire on False Perspective, now reproduced in almost every book on perspective.