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

Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0816: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 21.6 × 23.5 cm, 8 ½ × 9 ¼ in. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. Bequest from Morton Allport, 1955 (AG344).

Photo courtesy of Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Bequest from Morton Allport, 1955 (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • Dover Harbour, with the Cliffs Beyond
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
21.6 × 23.5 cm, 8 ½ × 9 ¼ 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)
Goldman, 1986


Henry Scipio Reitlinger (1882–1950); Sotheby’s, 26 May 1954, lot 592 as 'A Harbour beneath a headland with shipping' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; presented by the Trustees of the Morton Allport Memorial Bequest, 1955


Goldman, 1986, p.6 as 'View of Dover Harbour' by Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of vessels anchored in Dover harbour, with the port’s distinctive white cliffs behind, one of two versions of the same composition (the other being TG0816a), 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, but, following Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, this work was published under the joint authorship of Girtin and Turner (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23; Goldman, 1986, p.5). Even when the work is viewed from a photograph, enough of Girtin’s distinctive pencil work can be discerned, particularly in the rigging of the boats and in the areas that Turner left untouched to act as highlights, to be sure of the former’s involvement in its production. This is the more complete of the two versions of the Monro School subject, and, unusually for when a second copy exists, it seems that the other too was by both Turner and Girtin working together, rather than being the work of another, anonymous copyist. The unfinished state of the other version and the different, squarer format of this work suggest that the latter was abandoned and another Girtin outline was created to receive Turner’s colour washes.

1795 - 1796

Vessels Moored in Dover Harbour


1795 - 1796

Dover Harbour: Small Boats by the Quay


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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