Joseph Mallord William Turner

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


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 110 × 88 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXI 92

Catalogue entry

Only the lower half of this inscription is legible. It continues on folio 91 verso (D07739), as follows:
Crying into a laughing face | speculation of Cardinal Cusanus1 | touching the coincidence of Extremes | In the room of touch in Painting | Sculpture hath a kind of tenderness | calld by the Italians Morbidezza | ... colouring which hath not [continued on D07739] the greatest power whereupon perchance | did grow the fashion of colours statues | even regal. English barbarism
Turner has abbreviated a longer passage in Wotton’s book (see notes to folio 89, D07734) in which the author observes that ‘though gladnesse and griefe be opposite in nature, yet they are such neighbours and confiners in art, that the least touch of a pensill’ will turn one expression into the other. Comparing sculpture to painting, Wotton remarks that sculpture is superior in depicting ‘a kind of tenderness’ because it must overcome ‘unpliant stuff’, but ‘colours ... have the greatest power’ in rendering affections and passions which has led to the ‘English barbarism’ of colouring statues.

David Blayney Brown
May 2011

Cardinal Nikolaus Cusanus von Kues.

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