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 (?) John Henderson

A Two-Master in Dover Harbour, with the Castle Beyond

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0795: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), A Two-Master in Dover Harbour, with the Castle Beyond, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN), 34.4 × 42.5 cm, 13 ½ × 16 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXVIII, 2 (D36617).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • A Two-Master in Dover Harbour, with the Castle Beyond
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN)
34.4 × 42.5 cm, 13 ½ × 16 ¾ 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 January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 111 as 'Shipping in Dover Harbour in Indian ink (9)' by 'Turner'; bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £5 5s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.636 as ’Study of Shipping (early)’


Ruskin, Works, vol.13, p.638 as 'Study of Shipping (early)'; Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1241 as 'Study of shipping' by Thomas Girtin; MacColl, 1920, p.136; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.205 as by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 12/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of a substantial vessel in Dover harbour, with a view of the castle beyond, was bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), one of as many as a hundred views of the town and its environs listed in the catalogue (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833; Christie’s, 1 July 1833). The watercolour was produced at Monro’s home, where Turner and Girtin 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 from Girtin and Turner 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 were copied after other artists, 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 were still produced after secondary sources. This watercolour was part of a lot of nine large views of Dover bought by Turner himself (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lot 111), and, given that six of them are based on surviving outlines by Henderson, there is no reason to suspect that this work too was not copied from an untraced drawing by the amateur artist. The watercolour was sold as by Turner alone, but the pencil work is of a good standard and contains numerous touches that identify it as being executed by Girtin himself. The watercolour washes, in contrast, are quite perfunctory and not of the highest quality, but, as Andrew Wilton has noted in the online catalogue of the Turner Bequest, they are almost certainly by Turner and their weakness might be accounted for by an ‘earlier date of execution’ (D36617). The poor state of preservation of the work (discoloured by excessive exposure to light) does not help, but it may be that Turner simply did not have sufficient time to take a relatively large drawing to the same degree of completion seen in other copies after Henderson.

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.