For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works (?) Thomas Girtin and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) John Henderson

Dover Harbour, with Fishing Boats at Low Tide

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0823: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), Dover Harbour, with Fishing Boats at Low Tide, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 21 × 28.3 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 ⅛ in. The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of of Hildegard and Clyde Ryals (2007.162).

Photo courtesy of The High Museum of Art, Atlanta (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • Dover Harbour, with Fishing Boats at Low Tide
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
21 × 28.3 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 ⅛ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Online Catalogue


Sotheby's, 19 July 1979, lot 41 as 'In Dover Harbour - Fishing Boats near the Pier Head - Low Tide' by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £1,000; Hildegard and Clyde Ryals; presented to the Museum, 2007

Exhibition History

Atlanta, 2006, no.60 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner (attributed)

About this Work

This view of fishing boats in the harbour at Dover 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: Fishing Vessels, Their Sails Drying (TG0798), which displays a similar fascination with the minutiae of marine labour – suggest that it was an outline drawing by Henderson. The amateur’s numerous Dover views are essentially variations on a set of themes, with the same vessels, buildings, views and naval operations returning in different combinations, and it is a measure of their skill that both Turner and Girtin were able to create from this unpromising source a unified body of work that includes sufficient variety to maintain interest levels.

All of the views of Dover sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone, and, prior to the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, few of the Monro School Dover subjects were described as being the joint productions of Girtin and Turner, this despite the artists’ own description of their practice at the patron’s house as they related to Farington in 1798 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). The owner of the work attributes the watercolour solely to Turner, but as far as I can see from an online image there are sufficient characteristic touches visible in the relatively prominent pencil work to suggest Girtin’s involvement in its production and that it is therefore a typical example of the artists’ collaborative work for Monro.

1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: Fishing Vessels, Their Sails Drying


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).

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.