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

A Distant View of Radicofani in Tuscany

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0639: Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797), A Distant View of Radicofani in Tuscany, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 15.3 × 24.2 cm, 6 × 9 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Radicofani, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 13.3 × 24.8 cm, 5 ¼ × 9 ¾ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4553).

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 Distant View of Radicofani in Tuscany
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
15.3 × 24.2 cm, 6 × 9 ½ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; Italian View: Tuscany

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, probably Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 76, as 'Astroni, Radicofani, and Gaeta' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £8 8s; George Morant (1770–1846); his sale, Christie’s, 8 March 1839, lot 240 as 'Radicofani on the Appenines' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; ... R. E. Summerfield; R. E. Summerfield Charitable Trust sale, Christie’s, 7 April 1992, lot 106 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, £3,300


Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.49

About this Work

This distant view of the hill town of Radicofani in Tuscany was copied from a composition possibly by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see source image TG0639). It was produced at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) 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’. The majority of the resulting watercolours saw the two artists engaged in a unique collaboration; as they later recalled, Girtin ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’ 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

Monro’s posthumous sale of 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, a simple outline inscribed ‘Radicofani’ (see the image above), was almost certainly 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, now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). The outline on which this watercolour is based is part of a group of sketches that may have been made by Cozens during his stay in and around Rome from November 1776 through to March 1779, though, as Sloan has pointed out, it is also possible that they were traced from drawings made by his father, Alexander Cozens (1717–86), on his earlier trip (Sloan, 1986, pp.127–28). Certainly, none of the compositions in this group of drawings were realised as watercolours by Cozens, and this possibly encouraged Monro to commission a finished work for his collection.

The majority of the Italian scenes sold at Monro’s posthumous sale were attributed to Turner alone, and this generally remained the case until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, since when the joint attribution of the Monro School works to Turner and Girtin has increasingly become the norm (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). In this case, although the foreground is quite heavily worked, enough pencil work is still clearly apparent, particularly on the distant hill, to indicate Girtin’s participation in the work’s production. Cozens’ tracing and the finished watercolour are the same size and it may be that Girtin’s contribution was actually little more than to trace the outlines from the sketch. This is certainly the conclusion I take from overlaying images of the two works, which reveals a striking congruence between the forms; it was therefore up to Turner to obscure the essentially mechanical task of replication and produce something that might be thought to approximate a finished work.

A copy of this drawing is pasted into a collection of watercolours painted from Monro School collaborations known as ‘The LeGeyt Volume’ after a later owner May Le Geyt (d.1942) who was a descendent of Dr Thomas Monro (Lacy Scott & Knight, 11 March 2017, lot 1464 (p.4)).  One of the drawings is inscribed ‘J. Monro’, presumably John Monro (1801-80) the fourth son of the doctor and he may have been the author of all of the sheets in the book. Some of the drawings are dated 1827 and 1837 suggesting that the copies were made both prior to the 1833 sale, as in this case, whilst others were painted from material retained by the Monro family.

1794 - 1797

A Distant View of Radicofani in Tuscany


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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