Joseph Mallord William Turner

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

c.1809

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 × 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07358
Turner Bequest CVIII 2 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Prometheus the son of Japhet and Asia the nymph first invented | the Plastic. -Hence Gyges the Lydian, Pyrrhus the Grecian and | Polygnotus <...> the Athenian here Pliny 35 1234 Chap | is referd to as they painted only in Black & White the | P. Ardices the Corinthian and Telephanes the Sicyonian | Cleophantus the Corinthian brought the use of Colors | calld Monochroma. after this Appollodorus the Athenian | used the pencil, and Cumanus who characterized the forms | the beautyfull and Cimon Cleondus found out the fore- | shortening of figures casting the countenance so artifi | caly that it seemd to look every way, teaching more | hover how to represent the plaits and folds in garments | together with the veins and muscles of the Body Paneus | brother of Phidias sought the way to paint women with | white garments fringed and crowns of gold upon their heads | the Battle of the Athenians and Persians and invented the
The last sentence concludes with ‘art of drawing from the Life’ on folio 3 recto opposite (D07359).
As with Turner’s notes on the recto of this leaf (D07357), Jerrold Ziff has identified these anecdotes of ancient art as 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 In this case they come from page 7 of the ‘Preface’.
Some nine lines of Lomazzo are passed over after Turner’s first sentence. The ‘Black & White’ passage is rather truncated, the original reading ‘onely with Blacke and White, the authors whereof were Ardices ...’; Turner’s ‘P’ probably stands for ‘painters’. He has also copied the marginal note ‘Plin. lib. 35. | ca. 1. 2. 3. 4. &’. Ziff has transcribed Turner’s notes on the history of ancient art made directly from the 1601 English edition of Pliny the Elder’s first century AD Naturalis Historia (‘Natural History’).2 Mordechai Omer has addressed Turner’s notes in relation to discussions of the Biblical Japhet and his father Noah as ‘the cradle of civilization and the origin of the Arts’, albeit without recognising Lomazzo as the direct source.3

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
Ziff 1984, pp.45–6, with transcription of Turner’s notes (followed here with slight variations); see also Davies 1994, p.287; Lomazzo also rechecked directly.
2
‘Appendix II’ in Ziff 1984, pp.50–2.
3
Omer 1975, pp.698, 701.

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