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Works (?) Thomas Girtin after John Robert Cozens

Ariccia: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Chigi Palace

1795 - 1800

Primary Image: TG0622: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Ariccia: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Chigi Palace, 1795–1800, graphite on laid paper, 49.2 × 39.2 cm, 19 ⅜ × 15 ¼ in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1970P137).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Ariccia, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 49.8 × 39.7 cm, 19 ⅝ × 15 ⅝ in. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (P.149'53).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Ariccia: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Chigi Palace
1795 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
49.2 × 39.2 cm, 19 ⅜ × 15 ¼ in (irregular)
Object Type
Monro School Copy; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Italian View: The Roman Campagna

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and April 2024


Manning Gallery, London; Hope Keith, née Wright (Mrs Cecil Keith) (1902–83); presented to the Museum, 1970

Exhibition History

Manning, 1959, no.24; Worthing, 1963, no.48

About this Work

This large pencil drawing, showing the church of Santa Maria Assunta at Ariccia from a distance with the Chigi Palace alongside, is based on a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see the source image above). The drawing, at first sight, appears to have been made at the house of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his almost exact contemporary, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), 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. As the two young artists later recalled, Girtin generally ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’, though in this case the process was clearly not completed (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1.

Unlike with the two other views of Ariccia (TG0618 and TG0619), which are preserved in an album of drawings bought by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833, the link to the patron is less than clear-cut. Certainly, the drawing is based on a Cozens composition, but, whilst the vast majority of the Monro School versions of his works copy the artist’s sketches and tracings, this outline appears to have been studied from a finished watercolour, which was then in the collection of the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham (1760–1830). This may be inferred from the presence in the drawing of figures that replicate those in the Cozens watercolour, whereas the few that occasionally populate Cozens’ sketches tend not to find their way into the Monro School works, where Girtin invariably invents his own staffage. Moreover, the measurements of the two works match almost exactly. Then there is the question of the authorship of the pencil work itself. This has certain stylistic elements in keeping with Girtin’s practice, but in general the touch is crude and mechanical, and it lacks the inventive playfulness associated with his work. The way that the lines are obsessively reinforced also makes the whole exercise quite unsuited to Turner’s mode of colouring Girtin’s outlines: the economical use of a few tints would not have complemented the sharp accents deployed here. Of course, it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty, but I suspect that the work may have been produced by one of Girtin’s pupils, and the name of Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837) springs to mind, not least as she might have had access to Cozens’ watercolour at Ashburnham’s home.


It is easy to see why this work might have been thought to be an unfinished Monro School work as it is just the sort of composition that the patron commissioned in huge quantities from Girtin, Turner and many of the other artists who visited his home. In what amounts to a monumental vicarious Grand Tour, Monro’s collection featured many hundreds of watercolours covering the full range of motifs drawn by Cozens and his contemporaries on the Continent. This particular composition was particularly popular with artists visiting Italy, and, more specifically, with those who bought their work, and it is known from watercolours by Thomas Jones (1742–1803), William Pars (1742–82), John ‘Warwick’ Smith (1749–1831), Francis Towne (1739–1816) (see figure 1) and Cozens himself. If there was one view of Ariccia that Monro did not need to complete his collection it was perhaps this one, therefore, and, not surprisingly, there is no evidence that the drawing was ever in his collection.

1794 - 1797

Ariccia: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta


1794 - 1797

Ariccia: Looking Up to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta


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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