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

Lake Garda, from near Peschiera

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0684: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Lake Garda, from near Peschiera, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 17.5 × 24.4 cm, 6 ⅞ × 9 ⅝ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIV, 25 (D36503).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Lake Garda, from near Peschiera
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
17.5 × 24.4 cm, 6 ⅞ × 9 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
36.8 × 48 cm, 14 ½ × 18 ⅞ in

'Lago de Guarda near Peschiera' on the mount, ascending vertically, in a later hand (presumably transcribing Thomas Girtin's no longer visible inscription)

Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The North; Lake Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in November 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 28 June 1833, lot 79 as ‘Twenty-six sketches in Switzerland and Italy, by Turner, in blue and Indian ink, in a scrap-book’; bought by Thomas Griffith for Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £10 10s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1233 as 'Bay, with mountains' by Thomas Girtin; Wilton, 1984a, p.18; Turner Online as 'On Lake Garda' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin

About this Work

This view of Lake Garda, looking north from Peschiera with the Alps in the distance, is mounted in an album of watercolours that was bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 79). The twenty-six drawings were the outcome of a unique collaboration between Girtin and Turner working together at Monro’s London home at the Adelphi. Here the artists 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

On Lake Garda, near Peschiera

The view of the lake was copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that he executed as a watercolour in 1778 (see figure 1; Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.46). It is very unlikely that Monro had access to Cozens’ finished watercolours, and the work was presumably copied either from a small on-the-spot sketch made in 1776 or from one of the tracings the artist was in the habit of producing from his own compositions. The auction of the artist’s work held in July 1794 contained twenty-seven ‘books of sketches’ and many hundreds of drawings made on his travels, and, as Kim Sloan has argued, given that Monro’s posthumous sale included only a few sketches by Cozens, the patron must have borrowed the bulk of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82). The date on the Cozens watercolour, 1778, is particularly significant because it establishes that the source for this drawing was sketched on the artist’s first trip to Italy. Moreover, the location of Peschiera, midway between Verona and Breschia on the road from Bergamo, suggests the possibility that the untraced sketch was made on the journey from Switzerland to Rome in the autumn of 1776. It follows from this that possibly as many as eight Monro School works were based on sketches made on a short stretch of Cozens’ progress south through Italy, including Verona: The Church of San Giorgio in Braida on the River Adige (TG0683) and Gorle, on the River Serio, near Bergamo (TG0689).

The album containing this drawing was sold in 1833 as the work of Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for the watercolours, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1233; 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, and Girtin’s inventive and fluent hand is clearly apparent under Turner’s economical use of a simple palette of blues and greys.

1794 - 1797

Verona: The Church of San Giorgio in Braida on the River Adige


1794 - 1797

Gorle, on the River Serio, near Bergamo


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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