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

Lake Albano, from Palazzolo

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0617: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Lake Albano, from Palazzolo, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 42.2 × 54.7 cm, 16 ⅝ × 21 ½ in. National Galleries of Scotland (D NG 882).

Photo courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Lake Albano, from Palazzolo
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
42.2 × 54.7 cm, 16 ⅝ × 21 ½ in

‘Lake Albano or Nemi, Castel Gandolfo’ on the back

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The Roman Campagna; Lake Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and June 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 102 as 'Gandolfo and Tivoli, a pair, colours' by 'Turner' (with TG0578); bought by 'Thane', £15 17s; Thomas Thane (1782–1846) ... Henry Vaughan (1809–99); bequeathed to the Gallery, 1900

Exhibition History

London, 1871, no.84 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Annual January Turner Exhibition, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1900-


Armstrong, 1902, p.238 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Powell, 1984, pp.22–27; Campbell, 1993, p.74; Baker, 2006, pp.28–29; Baker, 2011, p.365 as 'Lake Albano' by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This large view of Lake Albano, looking from the grounds of the monastery at Palazzolo, 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

Lake of Albano

The view west through trees towards Castel Gandolfo, which appears on the rim of the crater inhabited by the lake of Albano, is based on a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that he realised as a watercolour (Leeds Art Gallery (846/28)) and as a soft-ground etching (see figure 1). The Monro School watercolour follows both works by Cozens closely, but it is on a larger scale and, crucially, reverses the composition so that the double form of the tree appears to the right. Whether this was done deliberately to improve the composition is impossible to say, but it does indicate that the source was a tracing, which might have been worked from the back, thus reversing the image. The creation of a tracing was a common stage in the production of a soft-ground etching, and the fact that there are other examples of Monro School compositions that reverse the sense of a Cozens source (see TG0711) confirms the idea that Girtin produced his outlines from tracings as well as on-the-spot sketches by the earlier artist.

The unusual, large scale of the work (42.2 × 54.7 cm, 16 ⅝ × 21 ½ in) makes it possible to identify it as one of a pair, with Tivoli: The ‘Temple of the Sibyl’ and the Cascades Seen from Below (TG0578), a work that was sold as by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 102). More recently, following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, the joint attribution of the Monro School works to Turner and Girtin has become the norm, though this work is still given to Turner alone (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). However, enough of the pencil work is apparent to indicate Girtin’s involvement in its production, with Turner adding a narrow range of blues and greys to his collaborator’s outlines. The two hunters in the foreground have not been coloured, and, as they are clearly the work of Girtin, the dual attribution (which elsewhere in the drawing is somewhat clouded) is confirmed. Thus, even though the pencil work is quite generalised in comparison with subjects where the architectural element requires a more refined use of line, there is no reason to think that the watercolour departs from the general practice that the two artists described to Farington in 1798, and any shortcomings in the outlines are therefore a function of the work’s scale.

1794 - 1797

Naples: The View from Sir William Hamilton’s Villa at Portici


1794 - 1797

Tivoli: The ‘Temple of the Sibyl’ and the Cascades Seen from Below


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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