Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Art History and Perspective, Probably in Part 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 47 a

Catalogue entry

The top half of the page is taken up with the following notes:
1505. The earliest date of Albert Durer, a Horse | and Armourer with an arch, 1508 and 1510–11.. but the best principle of Perspective is in | St Jerome date 1519 and the birth of Christ | without a date;
Giotto in Tuscany and Andrino Pa[...]ese Lom | bardy taught perspective
Maurice Davies has not identified the source(s) of these notes.1 He observes that Turner refers to Dürer’s print of St Jerome in his study in discussing parallel and angular perspective in his third Royal Academy perspective lecture, though the print is dated 1514, suggesting ‘an error in Turner’s note (or his source)’, while Dürer’s print of the Nativity is dated 1504.2 Turner made other notes on Dürer’s prints in the Lowther sketchbook of 1809 (Tate D07900; Turner Bequest CXIII 30a).
Given the conjunction of names, it is likely that the second paragraph is derived from the 1598 English edition of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Tracte Containing the Artes of Curious Paintinge Carvinge & Buildinge (see the sketchbook Introduction), in this case from ‘The First Booke: Of the Naturall and Artificiall Proportion of Things’: chapter IV, ‘Of the Necessitie and Definition of Proportion’, page 27, where ‘Giotto in Tuscany, & Andrino di Edesia Pavese in Lombardy’ are mentioned. The identity of Andrino is obscure, and it has been suggested that the name was misspelt by Lomazzo, or taken by him verbatim from a corrupted manuscript of Pliny’s Natural History.3
The previous passage of Turner’s extensive notes from the Tracte appears on folio 42 verso (D07426), and the next on folio 60 verso (D07457).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Davies 1994, p.288.
Ibid., p.305 note 32.
Sara Blake McHam’s suggestion, acknowledged in Caroline van Eck (ed.), British Architectural Theory 1540–1750: An Anthology of Texts, Aldershot 2003, p.238 note 35.

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