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

Hastings: A Beached Fishing Boat

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0854: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843), Hastings: A Beached Fishing Boat, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 20 × 14.6 cm, 7 ⅞ × 5 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • Hastings: A Beached Fishing Boat
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
20 × 14.6 cm, 7 ⅞ × 5 ¾ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Christie's, 7 November 1995, lot 16 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, unsold

About this Work

This view of a beached fishing boat at Hastings in Sussex, with the church of All Saints in the distance, 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 Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and 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 and the adjacent coast 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 of coastal scenery and views of shipping 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

A Beached Fishing Boat, Hastings

Girtin is not known to have visited Hastings and the views he executed of the picturesque port were based on compositions by Dayes (see TG0314a figure 1) and his important early patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), whose drawings of the town’s churches, including The West Tower, All Saints’ Church (TG0227), he added to and improved. Despite the presence of the church, the focus of this view is on the fishing boats, however, and the source of the work is more likely to have been one of Henderson’s outline drawings, which invariably concentrate on the minutiae of coastal labour. Some of the Henderson outlines used by the Monro School artists include the spectacular cliff scenery west of Dover, and it is possible that the amateur travelled along the coast into Sussex and thus provided the basis for a group of copies that include comparable views such as Beachy Head, Looking towards Newhaven (TG0836) as well as this beach scene located further west. In addition to the clear stylistic and subject links that exist between this and coastal scenes produced after Henderson’s works, such as A Beached Vessel in the Inner Harbour at Dover (TG0810), there is a further piece of evidence that marks the work out as being produced at Monro’s home for his own collection. John Sell Cotman (1782–1842) made a copy of the Monro School watercolour a few years later when he visited the patron’s home (see figure 1), so it seems that the collaborative efforts of the two young masters were swiftly made available by Monro to a slightly younger generation of watercolourists to study.2

The bulk of the Monro School copies that were sold in the patron’s posthumous sale in 1833 were catalogued as by Turner alone, but in recent years, following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article, their joint attribution has become more the norm (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave much of the pencil work showing through, particularly in the rigging of the boat and in areas left untouched to act as highlights in the middle ground. Neither element of the production process – pencil outline or the addition of colour washes – is of the highest quality, however, though there is no reason to suspect that the work departed from the practice described by the artists themselves to Farington in 1798. Part of the problem no doubt lay with the source material, as Henderson, if it was him, struggled to relate the main beached vessel to the background in a credible way.


The West Tower, All Saints’ Church, Hastings


1795 - 1796

Beachy Head, Looking towards Newhaven


1795 - 1796

A Beached Vessel in the Inner Harbour at Dover


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 As Sarah Moulden has pointed out, the attribution to Cotman of this and five other copies of Monro School shipping scenes in the collection of Leeds Art Gallery is not entirely clearcut (Moulden, 2016, p.56).

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