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

An Unidentified Valley, Possibly in Switzerland

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0514: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), An Unidentified Valley, Possibly in Switzerland, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 24 × 37 cm, 9 ½ × 14 ½ in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1953P408).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
Title
  • An Unidentified Valley, Possibly in Switzerland
Date
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
Dimensions
24 × 37 cm, 9 ½ × 14 ½ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Unidentified Landscape

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0514
Description Source(s)
Online Collection Catalogue

Provenance

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; ... James Leslie Wright (1862–1954); presented to the Museum, 1953

Exhibition History

Birmingham, 2010, no.21 as ’A Mountain Pass ... Attributed to John Henderson’

Bibliography

Rose, 1980, p.61 as 'Mountain pass' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Birmingham Museums Online as 'A Mountain Pass ... Attributed to: John Henderson' (accessed 21 February 2024)

About this Work

This view of an unidentified valley 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 valleys he travelled along on his way through the country to Italy.

This work was acquired as by Turner, but the attribution was questioned by Andrew Wilton, who thought that the colouring was crude; he suggested that it was made by John Henderson (1764–1843) (recorded in the object file at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery). There is no doubt that many of the Monro School copies were made by other artists, young and old, professional and amateur, who worked at Monro’s house and who copied Girtin and Turner’s copies. In this case I am not persuaded by Wilton’s arguments, however. Given that there is no other Monro School version of the subject, I have kept the work under the default joint attribution with a question mark against Turner’s name to reflect the relatively poor quality of the washes.

by Greg Smith

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