Joseph Mallord William Turner

Commentary on Correggio’s ‘St Jerome’ (Inscription by Turner)


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Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 128 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXII 34

Catalogue entry

For Correggio’s picture and Turner’s copy, see folio 64 of this sketchbook (D04358). His remarks begun here (written with the book inverted) are concluded on folio 33 verso (D04317). A full transcription is given here for convenience:
St Jerome by Correggio | Painted upon Panel upon a rich ground | rather green, so that the first colour | produces a neutral tone approaching | to Green or Brown as cold or warm color is used. thus arrives the Beautiful cold grey | through all the flesh of the Infant and | Virgin | Some red and a reddish Brown sometimes are | used in the Shadows, for the ground is not rely’d | upon, but in the Breadths the shadows of | the drapery are surely scumbled [Finberg: ?merely crumbled] over the glazing, which is prepared with its own | color and highlights [Finberg: heightened] by glazing, and as the | drapery more or less receives the light or are contrasted [Finberg: compounded] so they lose their pellucid | quality and richness – as the Magdalene; this kept in check by the Vermillion of St. Jerome | which always has a ponderous effect [continued on folio 33 verso] this I do not conceive a defect in the | painter but the Materials. For a disadvantage | one way it contributes to give the flesh | softness and by his mode of admitting | reflection and the thin [Finberg: demi (?)] grey tint roundness in his reflections a warmer lies under the | Brown scumbling tone as the nature of the | subject demands. Sometimes pure vermillion, but so hid as to escape superficial observation. His Blue draperys are by far the thickest of | color owing to the power of the ground. But in this picture the Blue has been touched for | the harmony is hurt by protruding itself [Finberg: forward (?)] | to St. Jerome or the Magdalen.
Turner noted further remarks on the Correggio on folios 71 verso, 72 verso of his Small Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate D04262, D04264; Turner Bequest LXXI 62a, 63a).

David Blayney Brown
July 2005

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