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

Lake Trasimeno

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0641: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Lake Trasimeno, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 25.4 × 39.4 cm, 10 × 15 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Lake Trasimeno
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
25.4 × 39.4 cm, 10 × 15 ½ in

'Lake of Perugia' on the back, by (?) Thomas Girtin; 'Turner' on the mount

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Umbria; Lake Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Edwin Richardson, before 1922; Admiral Francis Hugh Walter Goolden (1885–1950); Mrs A. J. Bordes; Lawrences, Crewkerne, 31 October 1985, lot 48 as 'The Lake of Perugia', £2,600; Christie's, New York, 25 February 1988, lot 220 as 'The Lake of Perugia' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin

About this Work

This view of Lake Trasimeno in Umbria in central Italy 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

As with many of the Monro School drawings of Italian scenes, it has not been possible to trace the precise source for this work, but it is likely to have been made from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) and, more specifically, from sketches and tracings that he made during or after his stay in Italy from November 1776 through to March 1779. 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,2 and, as Kim Sloan has argued, given that Monro’s posthumous sale included only a few sketches by Cozens, the patron must have borrowed much of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82). In this case, as is all too common, the sketch either has not survived or has not been recognised as Cozens’ work. It has also not been possible to identify the view of the lake shown here, but, like another Trasimeno scene (TG0640), it appears to lack any reference to a great historical event that took place on its shores – the battle in the Second Punic War, when the Carthaginian general Hannibal defeated the Roman army.

The work is known to me only from a poor-quality black and white photograph. It is not possible to comment on its attribution at auction in 1988 to Girtin and Turner working together at Monro’s house, other than to say that there is no evidence to suspect that it departs from the division of labour that the two artists themselves described to Farington in 1798.

1794 - 1797

Lake Trasimeno


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

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