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Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) John Robert Cozens

A Castle beside a River, Possibly the Rocca Pia at Tivoli

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0761: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), A Castle beside a River, Possibly the Rocca Pia at Tivoli, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 37.5 × 46.4 cm, 14 ¾ × 18 ¼ in. Harewood House (HHTP:2001.2.125).

Photo courtesy of The Earl and Countess of Harewood and Harewood House Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A Castle beside a River, Possibly the Rocca Pia at Tivoli
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
37.5 × 46.4 cm, 14 ¾ × 18 ¼ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The Roman Campagna

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue


John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1769–1859); then by descent to John, Lord Northwick; his sale, Sotheby's, 4 November 1920, lot 479 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner, unsold; his posthumous sale, Sotheby's, 6 July 1921, no.176 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons (stock no.44), £50 and 5% commission, for 'Viscount Lascelles'; Henry George Charles Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood (1882–1947); then by descent


Borenius, 1936, no.474

About this Work

This view of an unidentified castle by a river displays many of the signs that mark the unique collaboration between Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Here they were employed across three winters, probably between 1794 and 1797, to make ‘finished drawings’ from the ‘Copies’ of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings of Cozens’ and other artists, amateur and professional, either from Monro’s collection or lent for the purpose. As the two young artists later recalled, Girtin generally ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, which may account for the generally monochrome appearance of the works, and, as the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) reported, Turner received ‘3s. 6d each night’, though ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1

The subject of this view has not been conclusively identified despite considerable efforts, and neither has a source been found amongst the compositions of John Robert Cozens (1752–97), nor, indeed, any of the numerous British artists, amateur and professional, working in Italy at this date. However, rather than being based on a depiction of an actual site, it is possible that the scene is, if not imaginary, then a composite view that combines two different landscape elements. The castle, for instance, appears to be based on a view of the Rocca Pia, the Renaissance fortress at Tivoli shown in two other Monro School views (TG0580 and TG0581). The former view, depicting two of the round towers from the north west, is particularly close to the structure shown here, though the landscape setting is very different from the centre of Tivoli. The river, in fact, resembles the stretch of the Tiber to the north of Rome, as featured in a number of other Monro School subjects, such as TG0647 and TG0648. There are no castle towers similar to these located alongside the Tiber in this region, however, and the most logical explanation for the incongruous combination of elements is that they were put together from two different sources. Whether this was done by the original artist, assumed to be, as elsewhere, Cozens, or the young Girtin and Turner in Monro’s home, it is not possible to say.

The watercolour has always been attributed to Turner alone, but, as with a number of other Monro School works that came from the collection of John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1769–1859) (such as TG0635 and TG0666), there is no reason to suspect that the pencil work is not by Girtin or that its production departs from the general practice described by the artists themselves to Farington in 1798. Indeed, Turner leaves areas of the vegetation untouched as highlights and here, and in the figures and goats in the foreground, Girtin’s distinctive hand can be seen clearly.

1794 - 1797

Tivoli: The Rocca Pia, from the North West


1794 - 1797

Tivoli: The Rocca Pia, from the South West


1794 - 1797

On the River Tiber, at Acqua Acetosa


1794 - 1797

A View on the River Tiber, North of Rome


1794 - 1797

Lake Vico


1794 - 1797

Solfatara, near Naples


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 The full diary entry, giving crucial details of the artists’ work at Monro’s house, is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1798 – Item 2).

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