For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) Edward Dayes

A Mountainous Landscape with an Overshot Mill, Probably in the Lake District

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0779: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), A Mountainous Landscape with an Overshot Mill, Probably in the Lake District, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 26.3 × 37.8 cm, 10 ⅜ × 14 ⅞ in. The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (2007.8.121).

Photo courtesy of The Clark Art Institute, Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • A Mountainous Landscape with an Overshot Mill, Probably in the Lake District
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
26.3 × 37.8 cm, 10 ⅜ × 14 ⅞ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Exhibition Catalogue


John Dobbs Berger; his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 16 July 1981, lot 45 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £3,400; Sotheby’s, New York, 23 October 1990, lot 6 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Christie’s, 7 April 1998, lot 26 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £28,750; Ackermann and Johnson; bought from them by Sir Edwin Alfred Grenville Manton (1909–2005), 1998; Manton Family Art Foundation, 2005-07; presented to the Institute, 2007


Turner Studies, vol.11, no.1 (Summer 1991), p.59; Wilton, 2001, pp.35–36 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin; Clarke, 2012, no.141, p.265 as by Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of an overshot mill, which may show the picturesque building at Boot in Eskdale in the Lake District, was made 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. Their task, as they recalled to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), was to copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). The ‘finished drawings’ they were commissioned to produce were the result of a strict division of labour: ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. As the young artists reported, ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ whilst ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1 The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings of which at least twenty are Lake District scenes after compositions by Dayes.

Girtin made a number of copies of his master’s views of the Lake District during his apprenticeship, including Lake Windermere and Belle Isle (TG0078). Since he was never actually to travel to one of the country’s most popular picturesque regions, for artists as well as their patrons and customers, he continued to base his Lake District views on the works of others throughout his career. As with the numerous copies that Girtin and Turner created from compositions by Cozens, it was the slight sketches and outlines that Dayes made on his travels that were used as the source for their more finished watercolours. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained several hundred of Dayes’ sketches, including seven ‘Views on the lakes, blue and Indian ink’ as well as views of ‘Keswick, Glanton, Patterdale’, all presumably made on his only documented visit to the Lakes in 1789, but there is no evidence that Monro owned any of the older artist’s studio works (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lots 42 and 45). Typically, the precise Dayes source of this view of a mill has not been traced, though this does not mean we should look elsewhere for its model. Few of Dayes’ sketches have survived and, arguably, the fact that no source can be found suggests that it was a thoroughly unprepossessing drawing that required considerable transformational skills from the young artists. The identification of the building as the still surviving mill at Boot in Eskdale, with the bridge over Whillan Beck, has also proved elusive. Certainly, the building shown in the watercolour is closer in its appearance than another Monro School view that has traditionally been said to depict Eskdale Mill (TG0780), and Dayes could have taken in the location on his 1789 trip, as other Monro School subjects feature nearby views (TG0770 and TG0771). However, in the end, the visual evidence is not conclusive.

Monro’s posthumous sale contained more than forty Lake District views, all of which were attributed solely to Turner (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833; Christie’s, 1 July 1833). Unlike Girtin, Turner did visit the region, albeit briefly in 1797. However, whilst some of the items in the sale may have resulted from this trip, the majority were noted as being in ‘blue and Indian ink’ and therefore employed the same palette associated with the Monro School works. The attribution of the Lake District views to Turner alone has been challenged in recent years, following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, and Girtin’s contribution to this work has recently been widely acknowledged (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave some of the pencil work untouched in order to create highlights, so that Girtin’s distinctive hand is clearly identifiable across the drawing. Indeed, as Wilton has observed, the watercolour is notable for the interplay of the pencil work and the subtle palette of blues and greys, which create a range of subtle light effects whilst also delineating a complex landscape (Wilton, 2001, pp.35–36).

1791 - 1792

Lake Windermere and Belle Isle


1794 - 1797

Cynwyd Mill, North Wales


1794 - 1797

Boon Crag Cottage, with Coniston Water Beyond


1794 - 1797

A View in Cumbria, Probably Looking from Irton Fell towards Ravenglass


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).

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.