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

A Hilltop Village, Said to Be Tivoli

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0579: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Tivoli, graphite and watercolour on paper, 16.2 × 18.7 cm, 6 ⅜ × 7 ⅜ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (E.3802-1934).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A Hilltop Village, Said to Be Tivoli
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
16.2 × 18.7 cm, 6 ⅜ × 7 ⅜ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in March 2022


Edith Mary Burke Powell (Lady Powell, née Wood) (1848–1934); bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


V&A Collections Online as 'Tivoli' by 'an anonymous artist, possibly J.M.W. Turner' (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of what appears to be a hilltop village in Italy 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’, 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

It has not been possible to identify the settlement shown here, though its traditional title of ‘Tivoli’ can probably be ruled out. In general, Girtin and Turner worked from compositions by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) and, more specifically, from sketches and tracings that he made during or after his two Italian visits, in 1776–79 and 1782–83. 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 the bulk of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82). In this case, the Cozens sketch either has not survived or has not been recognised as his work, and nor is it clear on which visit it was made. However, the general disposition of the composition clearly bears comparison with Monro School subjects such as A Distant View of Ronciglione, near Lake Vico (TG0620) and, if not Tivoli, then another central Italian hilltop town sketched on Cozens’ first continental tour would seem to be the likeliest option.

The bulk of the works sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone, and, despite the pioneering article published by Andrew Wilton in 1984, which established the joint authorship of many of the Monro School copies, this work has only ever been associated with Turner (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Indeed, despite the character of the washes, again comparable in their range and careful execution to the view of Ronciglione, the drawing has been described by the online collections site of the Victoria and Albert Museum, as by ‘an anonymous artist, possibly J.M.W. Turner’ (O738725) and it did not feature in the most recent printed catalogue of the watercolour collection (Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980). The two watercolours are surely by the same artist and I believe that the relatively heavily worked colouring is typical of a group of Italian scenes that can be attributed to Turner, including two others at the same museum with the same provenance (TG0681 and TG0703). Though, typically of the Monro School watercolours, much of the pencil work has been effaced, just enough of Girtin’s characteristic inventive touches are still apparent to suggest that he was also involved in this work’s production.

1794 - 1797

A Distant View of Ronciglione, near Lake Vico


1794 - 1797

Verona, from the River Adige


1794 - 1797

The Convent of San Silvestro, near Monte Compatri


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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