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

Innsbruck: St Anna's Column on Maria-Theresien Street

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0700: Unknown Artist, after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Innsbruck: St Anna's Column on Maria-Theresien Street, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 17.8 × 24.1 cm, 7 × 9 ½ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (582-1882).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Innsbruck: St Anna's Column on Maria-Theresien Street, graphite on laid paper, 16.5 × 23.8 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ⅜ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4616).

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

Unknown Artist after Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Innsbruck: St Anna's Column on Maria-Theresien Street
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
17.8 × 24.1 cm, 7 × 9 ½ in

'Turner' on the back of the mount

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Austrian View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 78 as 'Santa Giustina at Padua, Inspruck, &c. 3' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Linden', £5 10s; ... 'Jones'; bequeathed to the Museum, 1882


Armstrong, 1902, p.258 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.51; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.385 as 'Monro School Copy, perhaps by Turner'

About this Work

This view of a square in Innsbruck, with snow-covered mountains in the distance, was produced at the home of Girtin’s important early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), and it appears to have been based on a simple outline drawing by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that is inscribed ‘Inspruck’ and dated 6 June 1782 (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 (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.199), when the artist accompanied his patron William Beckford (1760–1844) through northern Italy to Naples. The sketch is the fifth image in the first of seven sketchbooks that survive from the trip (The Whitworth, Manchester (D.1975.4.5)), 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 several hundred ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), as well as other artists. In this case, the ultimate source of the watercolour was presumably purchased at the sale of ‘Mr COZENS’ in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).1 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 more than fifty watercolours were produced at the patron’s home (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). The column, dedicated to St Anna, was erected in 1703 with a statue of the Virgin Mary by Christoforo Benedetti (c.1657–1740) on the top.

Girtin and Turner provided the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) with a clear account of their activities at Monro’s home at the Adelphi in London. 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’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).2 In this case, however, the richly worked watercolour washes have effaced all traces of any pencil work that Girtin might have contributed to the work’s production and, indeed, the poor quality of the colouring also brings into serious question Turner’s involvement. The perspective in Cozens’ sketch is not exactly secure, but it all but collapses in the watercolour, which is heavy and overworked to such a degree that it is difficult to associate it with either Turner or Girtin. The Monro School copies executed by Girtin and Turner can vary greatly in quality, but they are never as flat or lifeless as here, and I suspect that this watercolour was made at a later date, perhaps copying an untraced work by Girtin and Turner.

A copy of this drawing is pasted into a collection of watercolours painted from Monro School collaborations known as ‘The LeGeyt Volume’ after a later owner May Le Geyt (d.1942) who was a descendent of Dr Thomas Monro (Lacy Scott & Knight, 11 March 2017, lot 1464 (p.1)).  One of the drawings is inscribed ‘J. Monro’, presumably John Monro (1801-80) the fourth son of the doctor and he may have been the author of all of the sheets in the book. Some of the drawings are dated 1827 and 1837 suggesting that the copies were made both prior to the 1833 sale, as in this case, whilst others were painted from material retained by the Monro family.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted


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