Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on 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 42

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes, continuing from directly opposite (folio 41 verso; D07424):
the last Specularia round glass. look at Moxon | with this kind of Perspective Pythagoras Plato Hostius | Augustus’s time was delighted with (Caelius [Lomazzo: were much delighted, as Coelius reporteth]
Euclid. first position, that all things which are | subject to our sight, are not [?so] seen together at once
3 times the Hieght of the object to be represented is | advised as the method best calculated to give proper | distance [‘of which’ inserted above] Vincentius Foppa Andrea Mantegna | Leonardo are said to have passed in [i.e. passed on?] the perspectives
Bernard Zenales [‘Bartholomeus’ inserted above] Bramantino [?el...] perspect | Bernard Zenales wrote a book in the time of the great plague | Vincentius Foppa a mil[...]
Jerrold Ziff has identified these notes 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 first paragraph comes from chapter III, ‘The Definition of Perspective’, of ‘The Fifth Booke: Of the Perspectives’, page 189, with Turner’s note to himself, ‘look at Moxon’, prompted by Lomazzo’s listing of various forms of glass such as ‘concave, rounde, plaine’; a copy of Joseph Moxon’s Practical Perspective, or Perspective Made Easy ... (London 1670) was acquired by Turner at an unknown date.2
The second paragraph comes from chapter V, ‘Of the Manner of Seeing In Particular’, page 192, and the third from chapter VIII, ‘Of Distance’, page 200, where Lomazzo advises: ‘That the person which beholdeth, stande off from the object or wall seene, three times the height thereof’. The last derives from chapter XXI, ‘Of Perspective in General, According to Io Bramantino a Perspective Painter and Architect’, page 215:
I remember I have read something concerning the Perspectives of Bartholomeus called Bramantino a Milanese, which I propose to set down in this place; ... Howbeit I am not yet resolved to publish a certain treatise I have of the Persepectives compiled by Bernade Zenale in the time of the great Plague ... marry this much I will promise, to put forth heereafter, a certain work of Vincentius Foppa a Milanese

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Ziff 1984, p.49 note 6; Lomazzo also checked directly.
Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, p.247.
Charles Robertson, ‘Bramantino [Suardi, Bartolomeo]’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
Janice Shell, ‘Zenale, Bernardo’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
E.S. Welch, ‘Foppa, Vincenzo’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,

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