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

An Unidentified Lake Scene, Possibly in Switzerland

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0787: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), An Unidentified Lake Scene, Possibly in Switzerland, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 23.7 × 36.9 cm, 9 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 14 ½ in. Leeds Art Gallery (664/25).

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, Leeds City Art Gallery (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • An Unidentified Lake Scene, Possibly in Switzerland
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
23.7 × 36.9 cm, 9 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 14 ½ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; Lake Scenery; Unidentified Topographical View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in February 2020


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 80 as 'A scrap-book, containing 66 sketches in Switzerland, in blue and Indian ink' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £21 11s 6d; ... J. Palser & Sons, 1925; presented by Leeds Art Collection Fund, 1925

About this Work

This unidentified lake scene has a number of features in common with the work produced at the house of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) by Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) in the winter months of the years between 1794 and 1797. In particular, the composition of the landscape resembles some of the views made after the sketches and tracings of John Robert Cozens (1752–97) dating from his two trips to the Continent. Although it has not been possible to identify the subject, the fact that the watercolour conforms to one of the standard formats of the Swiss scenes – that is, worked on paper of about 9 ¼ × 14 in (23.5 × 35.6 cm) – indicates that there was a Cozens link and that the work may therefore represent one of the Alpine lakes he sketched on his trip through Switzerland on the way to Italy in 1776.

The watercolour is currently attributed to Turner alone, but, though the pencil work (the role typically undertaken by Girtin) is neither prominent nor of outstanding quality, this does not mean that a collaboration between the two artists is out of the question. Turner’s subtle, economical use of washes of a limited palette of blues and greys certainly outshines the pencil drawing here, but a landscape copied from another source would have required little more than a basic outline for Turner to follow and there was little opportunity for Girtin, if he was involved in this work’s production, to show off his skills as a draughtsman. On balance, I therefore suspect that both Turner and Girtin worked on the drawing for Monro.

by Greg Smith

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