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 Robert Cozens

Lake Agnano, Seen from Astroni

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0738: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Lake Agnano, Seen from Astroni, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 17.7 × 23.2 cm, 7 × 9 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Guy Peppiatt Fine Art Ltd. (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Lake Agnano, Seen from Astroni
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
17.7 × 23.2 cm, 7 × 9 in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Naples and Environs; Lake Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2011


Christie's, 15 June 1971, lot 98 as 'A Hilly Coastline, with Figures Pulling in a Boat' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by 'Wederburn', 650 gns; Sotheby’s, 18 July 1974, lot 132 as 'Fishermen Hauling a Boat Ashore, at the Edge of a Lake' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by D. Everett, £1,100; Guy Peppiatt Fine Art, 2011

Exhibition History

Guy Peppiatt, London, 2011, no.20 as ’Lago di Agnano Seen from Astroni’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of Lake Agnano, which, before it was drained in the nineteenth century, filled a crater north-west of Naples, was copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see figure 1). It was almost certainly produced at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) 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’. The majority of the resulting watercolours saw the two artists engaged in a unique collaboration; as they later recalled, Girtin ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’ 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

Lake Agnano, Seen from Astroni

Cozens’ on-the-spot sketch is inscribed ‘Lago – d’Agnano – seen from Astruni – Novr.11’, as well as including other annotations (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.315). The sketch is found in the fourth of the seven sketchbooks from Cozens’ second Italian trip, which saw him travel to Naples in 1782 in the company of his patron William Beckford (1760–1844). It is unlikely that the Monro School watercolour was copied directly from the sketch by Cozens, however. It would have been uncharacteristic of Beckford to have lent the sketchbooks to Monro, and the existence of a large number of tracings of their contents by Cozens himself suggests that the patron, rather than the artist, retained the books. An album put together by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827), now in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, includes more than seventy tracings from on-the-spot drawings in the first three of the sketchbooks, which provided the basis for more than thirty Monro School works. There are only five tracings from the next three books, but there is no reason to think that others did not exist, and it was presumably from these lost copies by Cozens that as many as thirty-five more watercolours were produced by Girtin and Turner, including this view of the volcanic lake of Agnano. The fact that the Monro School copies never follow either the shading or the distribution of light seen in the on-the-spot sketches, though they always replicate the basic outlines, further suggests that Girtin and Turner worked from tracings and not the on-the-spot views in the sketchbooks. The sketch of Lake Agnano is in any case very slight, and working from a tracing meant that even more areas than usual, including the shoreline and the form of the hill in the centre, had to be improvised by the copyists, though the basic structure remains the same.

The bulk of the works sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone, and, in spite of the pioneering article published by Andrew Wilton in 1984, which established the joint authorship of many of the Monro School copies, this example was still listed as by Turner when it last appeared on the art market, in 2011 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23. This is not entirely surprising given that the watercolour has been quite heavily worked by Turner with a relatively full palette of colours, which has effaced much of Girtin’s characteristic pencil work. Arguably, just enough of the artist’s hand is still apparent in the lighter middle ground to point to Girtin’s involvement in its production, albeit at the most basic level, tracing the outlines from a Cozens drawing; it was Turner’s more onerous task to obscure the essentially mechanical practice of replication and produce something that approximates to a finished work.

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.