[Note 3 in "J. D. Harding and John Ruskin on Nature's Infinite Variety," which originally appeared in The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 38 (1970)]

Although neither Ruskin nor Harding seem aware of the fact, the comparison could hardly be just since the origins of the Liber Veritatis and Liber Studiorum differed so importantly. A. J. Finberg, The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R. A., 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1961), p. 129, explains the fundamental difference between John Earlom's engravings of Claude's rough studies, published by Josiah Boydell as the Liber Veritatis, and Turner's Liber Studiorum:

Claude's Book of Truth or Libro d'lnvenzioni was a book in which he recorded the compositions of pictures he had painted. These rough pen and sepia memoranda were not intended for publication, nor were they regarded as independent works of art. It was only long after the artist's death that they were pounced upon by an enterprising publisher who skillfully exploited Claude's reputation.... Wells [a close friend of Turner] thought that Turner would be victimized in the same way as Claude unless he took steps to forestall the Boydells and Earloms of the future.... Turner's motive was to make his reputation safe with posterity.

One does not have to agree with Finberg's assertion that such self-protection was the artist's only motive to see that the modern had an unfair advantage on the ancient.

Last modified 1 May 2024