Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Proportion, Motion and Colour, 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 34

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Michael Angelo measured found them their faces to be as | much bigger as they lost by their elevation – G[...] [?is] Trajan column the same
Raphael Perino del Vaga Matsolinus Rosso when which | to make there pictures acceptable and as the eye is | suppose hight then all made the Horizon high that | the legs might be a little shorter than the shoulders | * this is the [two triangles, pointing up and down respectively] Michael Angelo
Motion is the result of method & Judgment but | less in the painter’s power can only be affected by | action in opposition to repose. Polidore Michael | Gaudentius color naturale is that color w | produced 3 degrees of colour./ Color Perspective
Jerrold Ziff has identified these notes, continuing from opposite (folio 33 verso; D07408), 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 in this case from chapter II, ‘Of the Division of Painting’, of ‘The First Booke: Of the Naturall and Artificiall Proportion of Things’, pages 22 (the first two lines of Turner’s notes), 23 (to ‘Michael’ in the last paragragh), and 24.
The first sentence concludes a passage on the proportions of the so-called ‘Horse Tamers’, classical statues in the Piazza del Quirinale, Rome (see catalogue entry for D07408). Lomazzo continues on page 22: ‘The selfe-same order did the admirable workeman of Traians Columne keepe’. The column also features in Turner’s notes on folios 35 recto, 35 verso, 36 verso, 37 recto, 37 verso and 61 verso (D07411, D07412, D07414–D07416, D07459); see also the entry for folio 33 verso (D07408).
Several Mannerist painters are referred to: Perino del Vaga (1501–1547)2 studied under Raphael; Lomazzo gives the next name as ‘Francis Matsolinus’, apparently meaning Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, 1503–1540),3 who (as ‘Mazzolinus’) is the subject of a further note on folio 34 verso (D07410); ‘Rosso’ is presumably Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso, 1494–1540).4 ‘Polidore’ is probably Polidoro da Caravaggio (Polidoro Caldara, 1499–1543);5 ‘Michael’ is Michelangelo; and ‘Gaudentius’ is Gaudenzio Ferrari (1475/80–1546),6 under whom Lomazzo may have trained, and about whom Turner records further anecdotes (folios 38 verso, 39 recto, 39 verso; D07418, D07419, D07420).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Ziff 1984, p.49 note 6; see also Davies 1994, p.288; Lomazzo also checked directly.
Richard Harprath, ‘Perino [Perin] del Vaga [Buonaccorsi, Pietro]’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
David Ekserdjian, ‘Parmigianino [Mazzola, Girolamo Francesco Maria]’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
Michael Davenport, ‘Rosso Fiorentino [Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso]’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
Pierluigi Leone De Castris, ‘Polidoro da Caravaggio [Caldara, Polidoro]’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,
Riccardo Passoni, ‘Ferrari, Gaudenzio’, Grove Art Online, accessed 30 April 2008,

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