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

Dover Harbour

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0829: Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), Dover Harbour, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 18.4 × 23.9 cm, 7 ¼ × 9 ⅜ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • Dover Harbour
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
18.4 × 23.9 cm, 7 ¼ × 9 ⅜ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Girtin Archive Photograph


Walker's Galleries, London

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1932b, no.90 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of Dover harbour, showing the same buildings as Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond (TG0816), displays many of the signs that mark the unique collaboration between Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Here the two artists were employed across three winters, probably between 1794 and 1797, to copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including the patron’s neighbour, the amateur John Henderson (1764–1843), who lent his ‘outlines for this purpose’ (Farington, Diary, 30 December 1794). Henderson visited Dover in the autumn of 1794 and the ‘outlines of Shipping & Boats’ he made there, described by the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) as ‘Very ingenious & careful’, provided the basis for a substantial number of copies commissioned by Monro (Farington, Diary, 1 December 1795). As with the copies the artists made after the sketches of Cozens, ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ though ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1

Girtin is not known to have visited Dover and all of his views of the town were copied after secondary sources, including his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). However, whilst Turner travelled to the port in 1793 and executed a series of studio watercolours after his own sketches, the majority of the Dover subjects sold from Monro’s collection, numbering as many as a hundred, were still produced after the work of other artists (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833; Christie’s, 1 July 1833). The source for this work has not been traced, but comparisons with the sketches used by the Monro School artists in the production of other port views – such as Dover Harbour: Small Boats by the Quay (TG0803), which displays the same fascination with the minutiae of marine labour and similarly includes a disparate group of vessels moored in a picturesque harbour setting – suggest that it was an outline drawing by Henderson.

All of the views of Dover sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone and this remained the case until comparatively recently. Not surprisingly, this work, which is only known from an old photograph and has not been seen in public for almost a century, has never been associated with Turner’s collaborator at Monro’s house. However, although there is no clear visual evidence to suggest Girtin’s involvement, the fact that the buildings depicted here feature in at least two other Monro School works (TG0816 and TG0816a) suggests that it was produced from the same source material and was the result of the same characteristic division of labour.

1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond


1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: Small Boats by the Quay


1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond


1795 - 1796

Vessels Moored in Dover Harbour


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 full in the Documents section of the Archive (1798 – Item 2).

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