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Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after John Robert Cozens

Fano, on the Adriatic Coast

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0708: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Fano, on the Adriatic Coast, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 16.5 × 23.5 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Mark Murray Fine Paintings (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Fano, on the Adriatic Coast, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 16.5 × 24.4 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4526).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Fano, on the Adriatic Coast
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
16.5 × 23.5 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Italian View: The North

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Online Sale Catalogue


Leonard Gordon Duke (1890–1971) (collector's initials on the back); ... Durlacher Brothers, New York, 1962; private collection, Washington; then by descent; Mark Murray Fine Paintings, New York, 2018, as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; private collection, Wisconsin

Exhibition History

London, 1953b, no.152; New York, 1962

About this Work

This view of Fano, on the Adriatic coast, 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 they 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, amateur and professional, either from Monro’s collection or lent for the purpose. As the two young artists later recalled, Girtin generally ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, which may account for the generally monochrome appearance of the works, and, as the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) reported, Turner received ‘3s. 6d each night’, though ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1

The view is based on a simple outline drawing by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), inscribed ‘Fano on the Adriatic – June 23’, that is mounted in an album now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (see the source image above). This was almost certainly traced by Cozens himself from an on-the-spot sketch he made on a second visit to Italy, in 1782 (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.222), when the artist accompanied his patron William Beckford (1760–1844) through northern Italy to Naples. The sketch is contained in the first of seven sketchbooks that survive from the trip (The Whitworth, Manchester (D.1975.4.28)), and it was presumably traced by Cozens because the books were retained by Beckford. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by Cozens, so the patron must have borrowed the majority of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner. In this case, the source of the watercolour was presumably purchased at the sale of ‘Mr COZENS’ in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).2 As Kim Sloan has noted, Beaumont mounted ‘215 “tracings” or drawings on oiled paper’ in an album that he presumably lent to Monro, and it was from this collection that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91).

The bulk of the Monro School copies sold at the patron’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone. Although many have since been accepted as the result of the joint efforts of Girtin and Turner, especially since the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, others, as here, have remained under Turner’s name (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). The work is known to me only from an online image, and such is the dominance of Turner’s washes of colour that it is difficult to assess Girtin’s involvement. All I can say with any confidence, therefore, is that there is nothing to suggest that the work is anything other than a typical collaborative effort between Turner and Girtin.

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).
  2. 2 A full record of the sale is available in the Documents section of the Archive (1794 – Item 1)

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