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 after Marco Ricci

An Italianate Landscape with Two Monks

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1916: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Marco Ricci (1676–1730), An Italianate Landscape with Two Monks, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 31.1 × 50.3 cm, 12 ¼ × 19 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Artist's source: Davide Fossati (1708–95), after Marco Ricci (1676–1730), etching, Landscape with Monks for 24 Landscapes after Marco Ricci, pl.17, 1743, 24.8 × 35.6 cm, 9 ¾ × 14 in. British Museum, London (1917,1208.35.18).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Marco Ricci (1676-1730)
  • An Italianate Landscape with Two Monks
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
31.1 × 50.3 cm, 12 ¼ × 19 ¾ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Foreign Master
Subject Terms
Classical Buildings: Imaginary

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 1 July 1833, lot 105 as 'A pair of Italian landscapes'; bought by 'Monro', £2 12s 6d; Alexander Monro (1802–44); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 19 May 1845, lot 142 as 'An Italian landscape'; ... Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, 18 February 2010, lot 123 as 'Landscape near Rome with Figures', 'Manner of' Thomas Girtin, £5,875; James Mackinnon; online auction, Sotheby's, 25 November – 4 December 2020, lot 206 as 'Classical Landscape', unsold

About this Work

This Italianate landscape, with two monks in the foreground and an imaginary town beyond, is one of six watercolours that were painted by Girtin from etchings made after the architectural views of the Italian artist Marco Ricci (1676–1730) (see the source image above). The etchings were executed by Davide Fossati (1708–95) and published in Venice in 1743 as 24 Landscapes after Marco Ricci. The Venetian artist enjoyed considerable popularity in England following his two stays (1708–11 and 1712–16), and his Vedute – imaginary architectural views combining ruined buildings and sculptures in a generic classical, Italianate style – found a ready market, first as bodycolours and then as etchings published by Fossati and others after his death. The identity of Girtin’s model for this example was only identified during the preparation of this online catalogue, however, no doubt because the architectural element in this classical landscape forms, unusually for Ricci, a less significant part of the composition. In fact, Girtin followed Fossati’s image very closely, retaining the various figure groups, including the monks and the agricultural workers, and only simplifying the vegetation to the right. The result is a timeless image of a landscape as a place of quiet contemplation, and a site of rural labour that is picturesque rather than physically taxing.

All six of the copies after Ricci’s compositions were executed on similar laid paper, each measuring roughly 32 × 48 cm (12 ½ × 19 in) – that is, larger than the originals – and it is therefore tempting to characterise them in the same terms as the set of watercolours that Girtin produced after the compositions of Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820) (such as TG0888). However, although the Ricci copies are also based on prints, there is no evidence that they were produced on commission for a patron such as John Henderson (1764–1843). Indeed, appearing to date from later on stylistic grounds, say around 1800–1801, the watercolours were probably made for sale on the open market. The fact that the works were not acquired directly from the artist by a patron who had a say in their production is, I suggest, of some importance, as it significantly increases the possibility that Girtin bought the Fossati prints himself, just as he was to do with a group of French architectural views published in twelve volumes as Voyage Pittoresque de la France (La Borde and others, 1781–1800). Moreover, he did so with the intention of making saleable commodities, and there is certainly no question of his having produced the copies for his own study.

Classical Landscape

Girtin’s watercolour was copied at some point by Alexander Monro (1802–1844) (see figure 1), son of the artist’s early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Given that the copy was gifted by his descendant May Le Geyt (d.1942) to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) in 1929, it is likely that the original drawing was once in the patron’s collection. Indeed, a number of items in his posthumous sale in 1833 might be identified with this work, and one pair of ‘Italian landscapes’, in particular, was bought by Alexander Monro and later reappeared in his own posthumous sale in 1845 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lot 105; Christie’s, 19 May 1845, lot 142). Stylistically, the watercolour appears to date from after Thomas Monro’s patronage of Girtin had ended, however, and it has nothing in common with the works that the patron commissioned from Girtin in terms of size, palette or indeed subject matter. The elder Monro presumably acquired the work from the artist in the same way as any other collector at this date. He is known to have owned a number of drawings by Ricci, but all of Girtin’s watercolour copies follow the sense of the Fossati etchings, and it is unlikely that the artist worked from an example in Monro’s collection as it would have required him to reverse the composition.

1799 - 1800

Rome: The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina


by Greg Smith

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.