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

A Convent on Monte della Madonna in the Euganean Hills

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0707: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Jospeh Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), A Convent on Monte della Madonna in the Euganean Hills, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 17.7 × 23.3 cm, 7 × 9 ⅛ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIV, 16 (D36494).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Monte della Madonna, near Arquà, the Residence of Petrarch, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 19.4 × 23.5 cm, 7 ⅝ × 9 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4610).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A Convent on Monte della Madonna in the Euganean Hills
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
17.7 × 23.3 cm, 7 × 9 ⅛ in
Mount Dimensions
36.8 × 48 cm, 14 ½ × 18 ⅞ in
Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; Italian View: The North

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in November 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 28 June 1833, lot 79 as ‘Twenty-six sketches in Switzerland and Italy, by Turner, in blue and Indian ink, in a scrap-book’; bought by Thomas Griffith for Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £10 10s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1232 as 'Castle among mountains' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.54; Turner Online as 'Monte della Madonna, near Arcquà' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This landscape view in the Euganean Hills, south west of Padua, is mounted in an album of watercolours that was bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 79). The twenty-six drawings were the outcome of a unique collaboration between Girtin and Turner working together at Monro’s London home at the Adelphi. Here the artists 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 view is based on a simple outline drawing by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), inscribed ‘Monte della Madona near Arqua the residence of Petrarch Euganian Hills June 19’, that is mounted in an album now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (see the source image above). This was almost certainly traced by Cozens himself from an on-the-spot sketch he made on a second visit to Italy, in 1782 (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.219), when the artist accompanied his patron William Beckford (1760–1844) through northern Italy to Naples. The sketch is in the first of seven sketchbooks that survive from the trip (The Whitworth, Manchester (D.1975.4.23)), and it was presumably traced by Cozens because the books were retained by Beckford. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by Cozens, so the patron must have borrowed the majority of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner. In this case, the source of the watercolour was presumably purchased at the sale of ‘Mr COZENS’ in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).2 As Kim Sloan has noted, Beaumont mounted ‘215 “tracings” or drawings on oiled paper’ in an album that he presumably lent to Monro, and it was from this collection that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). The building on top of the hill in the centre of the composition here seems to be the Santuario del Monte della Madonna, which would have been visible to Beckford and his party on their return from a day excursion from Padua into the Euganean Hills. Arquà, which is mentioned in the inscription on the tracing and the on-the-spot sketch as the site of the home of the fourteenth-century poet Petrarch (1304–74), is actually a distance away to the south.

The album containing this drawing was sold in 1833 as the work of Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for many of the watercolours, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1232; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). In this case, the distant hills have been left uncoloured, and here and elsewhere Girtin’s hand is readily apparent, though this does not add up to much more than tracing the Cozens prototype, as overlaying images of the two works clearly shows. In general, I am more than happy to follow Wilton’s dual attribution of the Monro School works, but the application of the washes of grey and blue in this work, particularly in the foreground, is more typical of Girtin’s style around 1796–97, and, as with the view of Terracina (TG0709), it is possible that Turner was not involved in its production. The way in which a darker tone of grey has been added to a very generalised ground, often with the tip of the brush, to create abstract shapes is undoubtedly more characteristic of Girtin. Making pencil outlines of landscape subjects presumably took less time than colouring them, so that if Girtin’s attendance at Monro’s house matched Turner’s in terms of frequency, he would have had opportunities to contribute to the process of enhancing his own outlines.

Image Overlay

1794 - 1797

Terracina: The View from the Inn, with the Temple of Jupiter Anxur


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  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).
  2. 2 A full record of the sale is available in the Documents section of the Archive (1794 – Item 1)

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