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

A Rocky Gorge, between Chambéry and Les Échelles

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0789: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), A Rocky Gorge, between Chambéry and Les √âchelles, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 17.9 × 21.9 cm, 7 × 8 ⅝ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A Rocky Gorge, between Chambéry and Les Échelles
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
17.9 × 21.9 cm, 7 × 8 ⅝ in

'Between Chamberry & Echelles' on the back, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
French View: The Alps; Hills and Mountains

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Christie's, 14 July 1992, lot 21 as 'Figures at the Entrance to a Rocky Gorge' by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £2,530

About this Work

This view of a rocky gorge, which, according to the inscription on the back, was located between Chambéry and Les Échelles in Savoy, 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’, 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 so many of the Alpine views completed at Monro’s home, it has not been possible to trace the precise source for this image of the gorge in eastern France, which links to the crossing from Italy at Mont Cenis. 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 visits to Italy between November 1776 and March 1779 and again in 1782 and 1783. In this case, it seems that the source was a sketch made on Cozens’ return to Britain in 1779, which, if Monro School works such as TG0509 and TG0694 are a trustworthy guide, followed the popular Alpine crossing at Mont Cenis. 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 contained only a few sketches by Cozens, the patron must have borrowed much of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82). In this case, as is all too common, the sketch either has not survived or has not been recognised as Cozens’ work. Cozens actually crossed the Alps at Mont Cenis again in 1783, but none of the sketches he made in the last of the seven sketchbooks associated with that trip accord with a Monro School view, and a lost drawing from the earlier journey still seems the likeliest source.

The bulk of the Monro School copies sold at the patron’s posthumous sale in 1833, like this work, were attributed to Turner alone. Although many have since been accepted as the result of the joint efforts of Girtin and Turner, especially following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, others, as here, have remained under Turner’s name (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). The work is known only from a black and white image included in an auction catalogue from 1992, and at this distance all that can be said with any confidence is that there is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than a typical collaborative effort between Turner and Girtin.

1794 - 1797

The Village of Bramans in the Haute Maurienne in Savoy


1794 - 1797

Lake Mont Cenis


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).

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