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Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) Edward Dayes

A Mountainous River Landscape with a Bridge

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0779a: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), A Mountainous River Landscape with a Bridge, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 16.1 × 22.2 cm, 6 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 8 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • A Mountainous River Landscape with a Bridge
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
16.1 × 22.2 cm, 6 ⅜ × 8 ¾ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Bridges and Weirs; Hills and Mountains; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in April 2022


George T. Veitch; his sale, Sotheby's, 7 December 1927, lot 115 as 'Landscape with a bridge, mountains in the distance' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; a private collection, then by descent; Bonhams, 12 April 2022, lot 293 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin; Bonhams, 14 September 2022, lot 191

About this Work

This view of an unidentified two-arched bridge in a mountain setting, probably in North Wales, was in all likelihood 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). The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings, the majority of which, unlike this work, were inscribed with the subject.

The view certainly seems to be British, which all but eliminates Cozens from the list of potential sources, and a scene in North Wales is the most likely option. A similar though slightly larger composition from the same collection (TG0778a) shows the bridge at Beddgelert and it is just possible that this work shows the view from the opposite direction. Another possibility is the double-arched old packhorse bridge at Dinas Mawddwy, though the steep hill shown to the right does not accord exactly with the local topography. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained several hundred of Dayes’ sketches, including a dozen or so ‘Views of North Wales’ in ‘blue and Indian ink’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lot 47). Since there is no evidence that Monro owned any of Dayes’ studio works, it is likely that it was one of these less-substantial sketches that was the model here. Little of this material has been identified, no doubt because of its unprepossessing character, suggesting that the source for works such as this required considerable transformational skills from the young artists employed by Monro to produce an attractive addition to his extensive collection.

The majority of the copies sold at Monro’s posthumous sale were listed as being by Turner working 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). This work was attributed solely to Turner until its sale in 2022 when the quality of the pencil work was finally deemed to be evidence of Girtin’s involvement in its production. The economical use of washes of a limited palette of blues and greys to flesh out the pencil sketch is far from spectacular, but subtle passages such as the reflections in the water and the skilful manner in which the distance is conveyed suggest that this work is a typical outcome of the collaboration between Girtin and Turner, comparable to watercolours such as the similarly unidentified Mountainous Landscape (TG0769a).

1794 - 1797

A Mountainous River Landscape with a Village by a Bridge


1794 - 1797

Mountainous Landscape, Possibly in the Lake District


by Greg Smith

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