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

Lake Lucerne, from Weggis, with the Bürgenstock Beyond

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0482: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Lake Lucerne, from Weggis, with the Bürgenstock Beyond, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 23.4 × 38 cm, 9 ¼ × 15 in. Eton College, Windsor (FDA-D.513-2010).

Photo courtesy of Eton College, Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Lake Lucerne, from Weggis, with the Bürgenstock Beyond
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
23.4 × 38 cm, 9 ¼ × 15 in

'Lake of Lucerne / J.M.W. TURNER R.A.' on the back of the mount

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Lake Scenery; Swiss View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 80 as 'A scrap-book, containing 66 sketches in Switzerland, in blue and Indian ink' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £21 11s 6d; ... Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1951; Alan Pilkington (1879–1973); bequeathed to the College, 1973

Exhibition History

Agnew's, 1951, no.40, £250 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner


Eton College Collections Online as by Joseph Mallord William Turner (Accessed 28/1/2023)

About this Work

This view of Lake Lucerne from Weggis, with the Bürgenstock beyond, 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

This scene, one of six Monro School views of Lake Lucerne, was presumably copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), as in the cases of TG0478 and TG0480; the model, however, has not been found. It is highly unlikely, in any case, that Monro had access to Cozens’ finished watercolours, and the work was therefore copied either from an on-the-spot drawing made in September 1776 or from one of the tracings the artist was in the habit of producing from his own compositions. Cozens’ sketches from 1776 have not survived, but they were probably large in scale and little more than summary outlines, and that would explain why the Monro School copies are roughly the same size as the Cozens watercolours but differ radically in the distribution of light on the rocks and the vegetation, and in the reflections on the water in the lake views such as this, all of which would have been a matter of interpretation for an artist working from a simple drawing. In all, there are as many as sixty Monro School views of the Alpine scenery of France, Switzerland and northern Italy that can, with varying degrees of certainty, be associated with Cozens’ first trip to the Continent in 1776.

Establishing the division of labour within a Monro School drawing is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave much of the pencil work showing clearly. Although the nature of the subject did not require detailed work, Girtin’s hand is apparent under Turner’s economical use of a simple palette of greys and blues.

1794 - 1797

Lake Lucerne, the View from near Brunnen


1794 - 1797

Tell’s Chapel, Lake Lucerne, with the Fronalpstock Beyond


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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