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

A View on the River Inn, in the Tyrol

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0699: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), A View on the River Inn, in the Tyrol, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 17.2 × 23.1 cm, 6 ¾ × 9 ⅛ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIV, 17 (D36495).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Upon the River Inn, the Tyrol, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 18.7 × 24.4 cm, 7 ⅜ × 9 ⁹⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4619).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • A View on the River Inn, in the Tyrol
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
17.2 × 23.1 cm, 6 ¾ × 9 ⅛ in
Mount Dimensions
36.8 × 48 cm, 14 ½ × 18 ⅞ in
Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Austrian View; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in November 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 28 June 1833, lot 79 as ‘Twenty-six sketches in Switzerland and Italy, by Turner, in blue and Indian ink, in a scrap-book’; bought by Thomas Griffith for Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £10 10s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1232 as 'Mountains' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.51; Turner Online as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This view, taken on the river Inn west of Innsbruck, is mounted in an album of watercolours that was bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 79). The twenty-six drawings were the outcome of a unique collaboration between Girtin and Turner working together at Monro’s London home at the Adelphi. Here the artists 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

The view is based on a simple outline drawing, inscribed ‘Upon the River Inn – Tirol’ and dated 5 June 1782, that is mounted in an album now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (see the source image above). This was almost certainly traced by Cozens himself from an on-the-spot sketch he made on a second visit to Italy (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.197), when the artist accompanied his patron William Beckford (1760–1844) through northern Italy to Naples. The sketch is the fourth image in the first of seven sketchbooks that survive from the trip (The Whitworth, Manchester (D.1975.4.4)) and it was presumably traced by Cozens because the books were retained by Beckford. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by Cozens, so the patron must have borrowed the majority of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner. In this case, the source of the watercolour was presumably purchased at the sale of ‘Mr COZENS’ in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).2 As Kim Sloan has noted, Beaumont mounted ‘215 “tracings” or drawings on oiled paper’ in an album that he presumably lent to Monro, and it was from this collection that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). Beckford and his party crossed into Italy via the Brenner Pass and the first sixteen sketches produced by Cozens show scenes in the Tyrol region, part of western Austria and northern Italy. At least six of them ultimately provided the models for Monro School drawings, including A Tree-Lined Valley, near Innsbruck (TG0701).

The album containing this drawing was sold in 1833 as the work of Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for the watercolours, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1232; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave something of the pencil work showing through. Neither element of the production process – pencil outline or the addition of colour washes – is of the highest quality, however. Overlaying images of the Monro School watercolour and the Cozens sketch suggests that Girtin did little more than trace the general outlines of the simple composition; it was therefore left to Turner to obscure the essentially mechanical task of replication. If anything, the washes are even more perfunctory, as the distant hills are rendered with unmediated and flat areas of colour, and Turner ignored the note on the tracing that the peaks are capped in ‘snow’. It is possible, however, that the work is simply not finished, time having caught up with the artist, so that a drawing left incomplete at the end of a night’s labours was not taken up again. Therefore, variations in the quality of the Monro School works, which can be great, do not always mean that we should attribute them to lesser artists: the amount of labour that Turner and Girtin were able to invest in a work was crucial to its effectiveness, and this inevitably varied.

Image Overlay

1794 - 1797

A Tree-Lined Valley, near Innsbruck


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).
  2. 2 A full record of the sale is available in the Documents section of the Archive (1794 – Item 1)

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