Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Perspective and Art History, from Matthew Pilkington and James Barry


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

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Highmore wrote a treatise upon perspective and | the ceiling by Rubens at Whitehall relative to Archite[...] | and perspective –
Old Neefs 162
Young Neefs
Laguerre was employd to repair the Pictures of | Julius Caesar by Andrea Mantegna he contend | himself by repairing while Carle Ma[...]i paintd | over Rapheal [sic] picture that he was employd to | repair
Barry speaks highly of the sapidity | full toned richness and dignified tones of the | St. Peter Martyr as the Grand style of Landsc
These passages are derived from the Gentleman’s and Connoisseur’s Dictionary of Painters by the Rev. Matthew Pilkington (1701–1774),1 first published in London in 1770. Although there had been a further edition in 1805, given the reference to Barry (see below) Turner appears to have used the 1798 edition, from which the page references here are taken.
The painter Joseph Highmore (1692–1780) wrote A Critical Examination of Those Two Paintings on the Cieling [sic] of the Banqueting-House at Whitehall: In Which Architecture Is Introduced, So Far as Relates to the Perspective (London 1754), as well as The Practice of Perspective, on the Principles of Dr. Brook Taylor (London 1763). Turner acquired his own copy of the latter at an unknown date.2 Pilkington mentions these ‘pamphlets’ in his entry on Highmore on page 792.
The two names which follow are those of the father and son Pieter Neefs (I) (?1578–between 1656 and 1661) and (II) (1620–after 1675), known for their architectural interiors, particularly of Antwerp Cathedral.3 There are entries for them both on page 451 of the 1798 edition of Pilkington, where they are differentiated as being ‘called the Old’ and ‘the Young’. ‘Perspective’ is mentioned as a speciality in the subheading of each entry, but discussed only in the broadest terms under the older artist.
The French painter Louis Laguerre (1663–1721) did some early restoration work for William III on Andrea Mantegna’s important series of paintings, the Triumphs of Caesar, circa 1486–1505 (Royal Collection, Hampton Court Palace, Surrey).4 In his entry on Laguerre, Pilkington approves of his ‘judgment to imitate the style of the original, instead of new clothing them in vermillion and ultramarine; a fate that befel [sic] Raphael even from the pencil of Carlo Maratti’ (page 802). In later life, Maratti (1625–1713) had been keeper of Raphael’s Vatican Stanze frescoes.5

Matthew Imms
October 2011

A.C. Elias Jr, ‘Pilkington, Matthew (1701–1774)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 17 February 2009, <>.
Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, p.247.
Frans Baudouin, ‘Neefs [Neeffs]’ Grove Art Online, accessed 16 February 2009,
See for example C.H. Collins Baker, ‘Mantegna’s Cartoons at Hampton Court: II – The Preservation of the Cartoons’, Burlington Magazine, vol.64, no.372, March 1934, p.107 (quoting George Vertue); Gabriele Finaldi, ‘Mantegna, Andrea’, Grove Art Online, accessed 4 April 2008,
Manuela B. Mena Marqués, ‘Maratti [Maratta], Carlo’, Grove Art Online, accessed 4 June 2008, http://www.
William L. Pressly, James Barry: The Artist as Hero, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1983, pp.16, 156–7, 162.
This entry is paraphrased in Imms 2011, pp.3–4.

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