Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Ancient Art and Perspective, from Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo


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 32

Catalogue entry

Almost the whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Pharrhasius the Ephesian did adorn the art and Zuxsis [Lomazzo: ‘Zeuxes’] | invented the slight [Lomazzo: ‘sleight’] of shadowing. Apelles added the last | Geometry and arithmetick [‘Perspective’ inserted above] without which his Master | Pamphlius [Lomazzo: ‘Pamphilus’] used to say no man could prove a Painter | and Bernard of Lovinus say a P. without Perspective | is like to a Doctor without Grammar, five | Proportion, Motion Color Light & Perspective, an opinion | of Aristole, who writteth, that first principles may be | proved by sense meaning that the sensible proof is more | certain than the interlectual whence a thing is know | by nature when it is of <that> [‘such a’ inserted above] nature that it may be seen | by the other senses,
Jerrold Ziff has identified these anecdotes, continuing from folio 2 recto and verso (D07357, D07358), as free transcriptions from the 1598 English edition of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Tracte Containing the Artes of Curious Paintinge Carvinge & Buildinge (see the sketchbook Introduction).1 The passage up to ‘Grammar’ comes from page 8 of the ‘Preface’; ‘five ... Perspective’ comes from page 10, and the rest from page 9, both pages within the section on ‘The Division of the Work’.
The five terms Turner lists are Lomazzo’s ‘differences which make painting a particular and distinct Arte from all others’, to each of which he devoted ‘a several book’ within the Tracte (as presented in Haydocke’s translation, which does not address two additional books on practical perspective and subject matter). Further passages of Turner’s extensive notes from Lomazzo appear later in the sketchbook, continuing on the verso of the present leaf (D07406).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Ziff 1984, p.46, with transcription of Turner’s notes (followed here with slight variations); see also Davies 1994, p.288; Lomazzo also rechecked directly. Venning 1983, p.41 gives a transcription from ‘an opinion’ onwards (without identifying Turner’s source).

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