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

A View in Cumbria, Looking towards Irton and the Irish Sea, with the Isle of Man in the Distance

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0772: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), A View in Cumbria, Looking towards Irton and the Irish Sea, with the Isle of Man in the Distance, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 19.2 × 24.4 cm, 7 ½ × 9 ⅝ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXV, 23 (D36544).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • A View in Cumbria, Looking towards Irton and the Irish Sea, with the Isle of Man in the Distance
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
19.2 × 24.4 cm, 7 ½ × 9 ⅝ in

‘descent from [?Great Knot] towards Ireton Cumberland / Isle of Man in distance’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235 as '"Descent from Bassenthwaite, Ireton (?), Cumberland; Isle of Man in distance"' by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as 'View in Cumberland, Looking over Hills towards the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This view in the southern part of the Lake District, looking towards Irton with the Irish Sea in the distance, was made at the home Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and was bought at his posthumous sale by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). It was here that Turner and his almost exact contemporary, 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 Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). As they recalled to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), the ‘finished drawings’ were the result of a strict division of labour: ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. The young artists reported that ‘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).1 The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings of which at least twenty are Lake District scenes after compositions by Dayes.

Girtin made a number of copies of his master’s views of the Lake District during his apprenticeship, including Lake Windermere and Belle Isle (TG0078). Since he was never actually to travel to one of the country’s most popular picturesque regions, for artists as well as their patrons and customers, he continued to base his Lake District views on the works of others throughout his career. As with the numerous copies that Girtin and Turner created from compositions by Cozens, it was the slight sketches and outlines that Dayes made on his travels that were used as the source for their more finished watercolours. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained several hundred of Dayes’ sketches, including seven ‘Views on the lakes, blue and Indian ink’ as well as views of ‘Keswick, Glanton, Patterdale’, all presumably made on his only documented visit to the Lakes in 1789, but there is no evidence that Monro owned any of the older artist’s studio works (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lots 42 and 45). Typically, the precise Dayes source for this view looking west towards the Irish Sea from what, according to the unclear inscription, seems to have been the Hardknott Pass, has not been traced. However, this does not mean we should look elsewhere for its model. Few of Dayes’ sketches have survived and, arguably, the fact that no source can be found suggests that it was a thoroughly unprepossessing drawing that required considerable transformational skills from the young artists.

This is one of several hundred works bought by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833, the majority of which were attributed to him alone. The cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, in contrast thought that Girtin was responsible for watercolours such as this example, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Unlike Girtin, Turner did visit the region, albeit briefly in 1797. However, whilst some of the items in the sale may have resulted from this trip, the majority were noted as being in ‘blue and Indian ink’ and therefore employed the same palette associated with the Monro School works. Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave some of the pencil work untouched in order to create highlights, and Girtin’s distinctive hand is clearly identifiable across the drawing. In fact it is Turner’s contribution that must come under scrutiny, as the application of the washes of grey and blue, particularly in the foreground, is more typical of Girtin’s style around 1796–97. The way in which a darker tone of grey has been added to a very generalised ground, often with the tip of the brush, to create abstract shapes is certainly characteristic of Girtin, and the manner too in which the distant field patterns are constructed from a series of horizontal and diagonal lines has something in common with on-the-spot sketches such Stepping Stones on the River Wharfe (TG1613).

1791 - 1792

Lake Windermere and Belle Isle


(?) 1800

Stepping Stones on the River Wharfe


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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