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

A Small Boat under Repair by a Jetty

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0841: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), A Small Boat under Repair by a Jetty, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 20.4 × 25.7 cm, 8 × 10 ⅛ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • A Small Boat under Repair by a Jetty
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
20.4 × 25.7 cm, 8 × 10 ⅛ 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)
Auction Catalogue


Christie's, 17 November 1992, lot 62 as 'A Figure Looking out to Sea by a Jetty' by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £2,420

About this Work

This view of a small fishing boat under repair, probably at the jetty at Dover, 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 town and the harbour were copied after secondary sources, including his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). However, whilst Turner travelled to the port 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 port views – such as Dover Harbour: Fishing Vessels, Their Sails Drying (TG0798), which displays the same fascination with the minutiae of marine labour and, in particular, the day-to-day maintenance needed to keep the fishing fleet in good order – suggest that it was an outline by Henderson.

All of the views of Dover sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone, but, despite the fact that the joint authorship of the Monro School subjects has become increasingly the norm since the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, this work was still listed as solely by Turner when it last appeared on the art market in 1992 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). The work is known only as a black and white photograph, but there is no reason to suspect that Girtin was not involved in its production as well, though Turner’s washes of greys and blues appear to have left less room for his collaborator’s pencil work to shine than is generally the case.

1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: Fishing Vessels, Their Sails Drying


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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