Joseph Mallord William Turner

Notes from ‘The Elements of Architecture’ by Sir Henry Wotton (Inscription by Turner)

c.1809–11

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 × 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07737
Turner Bequest CXI 90 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s inscription reads:
The first painters Polygnotus | and Aglaophon are preferred before the | Zeuxes and Parasius are called the| law giver of proportion first in the | disposition of light but Painting | flourish in the days of Philip | Protogenes for diligence Antiphilus | in facility Theon of Samos for strength and Fantasy Apelles grace | Euphranor artisan Calon Egesias | stiff Calamis Polycletus | diligent decency in Polycletus virtue
Jerrold Ziff ascribes this passage (which he does not transcribe) to Franciscus Junius’s Painting of the Ancients (1638). However, the reading given here, together with the notes on adjacent leaves of the sketchbook (see especially the continuation on the recto, D07736), indicates that Turner’s most direct source was Wotton’s book or quotations from it (see folio 89, D07734). In the original text summarised by Turner, Wotton translated Quintilian’s1 ‘famous passage ... touching the characters of the ancient artizans’ (‘“Primi, ... Polygnotus atque Aglaophon ...”’).
As well as reading Wotton and Junius, Turner researched ancient art in the writings of Pliny 2and Giovanni Lomazzo.3

David Blayney Brown
May 2011

1
Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (AD circa 35–circa 100), Roman rhetorician and literary critic.
2
Gaius Plinius Secundus (23–79), Roman historian.
3
See Ziff 1984, pp.45–9.

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