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

A Ship Drawn Up on a Beach Being Careened

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0818: Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843), A Ship Drawn Up on a Beach Being Careened, 1795 –96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 19.7 × 26 cm, 7 ¾ × 10 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • A Ship Drawn Up on a Beach Being Careened
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
19.7 × 26 cm, 7 ¾ × 10 ¼ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2007


Sir Bruce Stirling Ingram (1877–1963); his posthumous sale, Sotheby's, 9 December 1964, lot 384 as 'A Ship Drawn up on a Beach Being Careened' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by Sir Humphrey Waldock (1904–81), £180; John Manning, London; Maxwell David Eugene Clayton-Stamm (1911–74); his sale, Sotheby's, 18 July 1974, lot 124 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; withdrawn; Eric H. L. Sexton (1902–80); Christie’s, 5 June 2007, lot 24 as 'Boat-building at Dover' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, £11,400

Exhibition History

Manning Gallery, 1966a, no.3

About this Work

This view of a vessel drawn up on the beach for repair 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 the two artists were employed across three winters, probably between 1794 and 1797, to copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including the patron’s neighbour, the amateur John Henderson (1764–1843), who lent his ‘outlines for this purpose’ (Farington, Diary, 30 December 1794). Henderson visited Dover in the autumn of 1794 and the ‘outlines of Shipping & Boats’ he made there, described by the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) as ‘Very ingenious & careful’, provided the basis for a substantial number of copies commissioned by Monro (Farington, Diary, 1 December 1795). As with the copies the artists made after the sketches of Cozens, ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ though ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1

Girtin is not known to have visited Dover and all of his views of the port and the adjacent coastline were copied after secondary sources, including his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). However, whilst Turner travelled to the town in 1793 and executed a series of studio watercolours after his own sketches, the majority of the Dover subjects sold from Monro’s collection, numbering as many as a hundred, were still produced after the work of other artists (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833; Christie’s, 1 July 1833). The source for this work has not been traced, but comparisons with the sketches used by the Monro School artists in the production of other shipping scenes – such as Dover Harbour: A Ship Being Overhauled (TG0796), which displays a similar fascination with the minutiae of marine labour – suggest that it was an outline drawing by Henderson. The amateur’s numerous Dover views are essentially variations on a set of themes, with the same vessels, buildings, views and naval operations returning in different combinations, and it is a measure of their skill that both Turner and Girtin were able to create from this unpromising source a unified body of work that includes sufficient variety to maintain interest levels. When this work was last sold at auction, in 2007, it went under the misleading title ‘Boat-building at Dover’ whereas it clearly shows a vessel under repair between trips. The identification of Dover as the location might be more accurate, however; the jetty in the distance resembles the structure shown in many Monro School views, including Beached Fishing Vessels in the Harbour at Dover (TG0820), in which case we are looking south west.

All of the views of Dover sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 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). The division of labour is all the easier to establish when, as here, Turner’s sparing use of a limited palette of greys and blues leaves extensive areas of the paper clear to act as highlights, so that Girtin’s distinctive pencil work is visible in many areas, particularly on the hull of the boat and the rigging, and the outline plays a characteristically important role in the depiction of the working figures on and around the vessel. The joint attribution of the work to Turner and Girtin was confirmed by Wilton when it last appeared at auction.

1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: A Ship Being Overhauled


1795 - 1796

Beached Fishing Vessels in the Harbour at Dover


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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