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

Boats Anchored in Dover Harbour

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0821: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), Boats Anchored in Dover Harbour, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 22.5 × 29.7 cm, 8 ⅞ × 11 ⅝ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (P.40-1934).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • Boats Anchored in Dover Harbour
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
22.5 × 29.7 cm, 8 ⅞ × 11 ⅝ in

'RDW' on the back; 'Alexander' on the back

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Dover and Kent

Boats Anchored in Dover Harbour (TG0822)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); Archdeacon Charles Parr Burney (1785–1864); then by descent to Rosetta d’Arblay Wood (née Burney) (1814–1910); then by descent to Edith Mary Burke Powell (Lady Powell, née Wood) (1848–1934); bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


V&A, 1935, p.24; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.60, p.205 as by Thomas Girtin; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.151 as 'Monro Scool copy, probably by Girtin'; V&A Collections Online as 'attributed to Thomas Girtin'

About this Work

This view of boats anchored in the harbour at Dover is one of two versions of a composition (the other being TG0822) that was probably copied from an outline drawing by the amateur artist John Henderson (1764–1843) at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Girtin is not known to have visited Dover and all of his views of the town were copied after other artists, including his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and Henderson, who visited the port in the autumn of 1794, is known to have lent his ‘outlines’ to Monro so that they might be copied by the young artists he patronised (Farington, Diary, 30 December 1794). The ‘outlines of Shipping & Boats’ Henderson made in Dover, described by the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) as ‘Very ingenious & careful’, provided the basis for as many as a hundred views of the port and its environs, including a close-up view of the same stretch of buildings in the harbour in Dover Harbour: The Stern of a Large Ship, and Smaller Vessels (TG1473), which was copied by Girtin and his collaborator at Monro’s home, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) (Farington, Diary, 1 December 1795).

Although the Dover subjects produced at Monro’s home were attributed to Turner alone at the patron’s posthumous sale in 1833, many of those that have since been identified are, as with the other version of this composition, now given jointly to Girtin and Turner. There is no evidence that this work was sold at the Monro sale, however, and nor too is there any indication that Turner was involved in its production. The pencil work is clearly by Girtin, but he also seems to have been responsible for the colour washes, which are both too summary and too unmodulated for Turner; moreover, the work employs a very different palette from the blues and greys of the typical Monro School Dover subjects to which he contributed. The more generalised effect that results is enhanced by the use of one of the rough-textured laid papers that Girtin employed from about 1796 onwards for his studio watercolours, and this no doubt encouraged Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak to include this ‘beautiful pencil and wash view’ in their catalogue as one of a handful of Monro School subjects that are ‘wholly the work of Girtin’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.60, 204–5). It appears, therefore, that in addition to producing an outline for Turner to copy, Girtin was sufficiently taken by Henderson’s composition to make a version for himself (presumably as a source for a future studio composition), to which he added a few washes of colour. Overlaying images of the two drawings shows that though they are very close, Girtin has included a little more of the composition left and right, and there are sufficient small differences to indicate that this image was not simply traced from the same source.

1795 - 1796

Boats Anchored in Dover Harbour


1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: The Stern of a Large Ship, and Smaller Vessels


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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