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

A Five-Arched Bridge, on the Road between Florence and Rome

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0671: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), A Five-Arched Bridge, on the Road between Florence and Rome, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 23.8 × 37.3 cm, 9 ⅜ × 14 ⅝ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXV, 8 (D36529).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A Five-Arched Bridge, on the Road between Florence and Rome
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
23.8 × 37.3 cm, 9 ⅜ × 14 ⅝ in

‘In the way from Florence / to Rome’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Tuscany

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.763 as ’A Bridge (early)’


Ruskin, Works, vol.13, p.641; Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1234 as '"In the way from Florence to Rome"' by Thomas Girtin; MacColl, 1920, p.136; Turner Online as 'A Five-Arched Bridge over a River with Buildings on the Far Bank' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, 'c.1796' (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of an unidentified bridge on the road between Florence and Rome was bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). It is one of several hundred drawings that resulted from the unique collaboration between Girtin and Turner at Monro’s home at the Adelphi in London. 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

As with many of the Monro School drawings of Italian scenes, it has not been possible to trace the source for this view of a five-arched bridge, which, if the inscription on the drawing is to be trusted, presumably spanned the river Arno south of Florence. But, as generally seems to have been the case, it is likely to have been a sketch by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), who probably travelled between Rome and Florence during both of his trips to Italy (in 1776–79 and again in 1782–83). The fact that the Monro School view is the same relatively large size as what appears to be its pair, A Mill and a Two-Arched Bridge on the Road between Florence and Rome (TG0670), tilts the balance towards the earlier trip, when it was generally Cozens’ practice to sketch on a more generous scale. The auction of the artist’s work held in July 1794 contained twenty-seven ‘books of sketches’ and many hundreds of drawings made on his travels, and, as Kim Sloan has argued, given that Monro’s posthumous sale included only a few sketches by Cozens, the patron must have borrowed much of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked, though, as is so often the case, the outline used here has been lost (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82).2

Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained numerous Italian scenes attributed to Turner, many of which were acquired by the artist himself, as here. The cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for watercolours such as this, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established the joint authorship of the majority of the Monro School works bought by Turner (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1234; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). However, it must be remembered that the Monro sale included a substantial number of Italian scenes that were recorded as being by Girtin alone, and there is a strong case for identifying this work with one of those. Specifically, in addition to his characteristic pencil work, which is particularly apparent in the areas left untouched to create the highlights, there are a number of passages of watercolour (in the foreground, on the bridge and on the distant hill) that are typical of Girtin’s style around 1796–97. Principal amongst Girtin’s most characteristic touches are the manner in which details are drawn in with the tip of the brush, the way in which negative areas are formed by leaving the paper untouched to create a series of abstract patterns on the bridge (for instance) and, finally, the use of blue and grey tones to map out a series of parallel forms to indicate the fields on the hill to left.

1794 - 1797

A Mill and a Two-Arched Bridge on the Road between Florence and Rome


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

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