Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Biographical Notes on Artists, from Matthew Pilkington


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 88 × 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVIII 5 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Sandarat [sic], de Piles & the Chron[...]cal Tables make | Albert Durer 1471 died 1528
Stephano Florentino [‘died’ inserted above] 1350, born 1301 | the disciple of Giotto he practised perspective | with greater regularity, and any other artist | in the early age of painting and in a disign | [‘Christ [?healing] the Demoniac from his Tormentor’ inserted between the lines] of dispossessing the Lunatic he introduced a | range of columns apparently formed according | to the rules of Perspective of which few or none | of his predecessors had any conception
Giotto was the disple of Cimabue /died 1336 [‘born 1276’ inserted above]
Maurice Davies notes that Turner mentions the subject of his central paragraph among other artists in his first perspective lecture, and that his source (in the absence of a general English history of artists’ use of perspective), was the Rev. Matthew Pilkington’s Gentleman’s and Connoisseur’s Dictionary of Painters, first published in London in 1770.1 Turner probably used the revised 1798 edition, from which the page references below are taken (see entry for folio 47 recto; D07435).
There are, apparently inadvertently, two variant entries for the artist in the 1798 edition, as ‘Stephano Florentino’ (pages 221–2) and ‘Stefano, called Florentino’ (pages 636–7), hence presumably Turner’s note opposite, on folio 6 recto (D07365): ‘Pilking calls him Stefano’. The wording of Turner’s main note is closely derived from the first entry, with Pilkington’s alternative wording ‘Christ delivering a Demoniac from his tormentor’ inserted afterwards from page 636. This painting by Stefano Fiorentino (working circa 1347), in the first cloister of the church of Santo Spirito, Florence, is lost.2 Stefano is mentioned again later in the sketchbook (folio 7 verso; D07367).
The note on Albrecht Dürer (giving the dates accepted today) comes from a footnote citing [Joachim von] ‘Sandrart, [Roger] De Piles, and the Chronological Tables’ on page 197. That on Giotto (with roughly the right dates) appears to come from the relevant entry by Pilkington, on page 264. Further pages of notes from the same source appears later in the sketchbook (folio 27 verso, folio 47 recto; D07397, D07435).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Davies 1992, pp.34, 106 note 20; see also Davies, 1994, p.287; Pilkington (1798 edition) also checked directly.
Brendan Cassidy, ‘Stefano Fiorentino’, Grove Art Online, accessed 11 March 2008,, as ‘Christ Healing the Woman Possessed’.

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