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Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) Edward Dayes

Mountainous Landscape, Possibly in the Lake District

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0769a: Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804), Mountainous Landscape, Possibly in the Lake District, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 27 × 38 cm, 10 ⅝ × 15 in. Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool.

Photo courtesy of Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Mountainous Landscape, Possibly in the Lake District
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
27 × 38 cm, 10 ⅝ × 15 in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2023


Fine Art Society, London; Cecil Francis Joseph Beausire (1898–1972); bequeathed to the Gallery, 1972

Exhibition History

Liverpool, 1970, no.42


National Museums Liverpool, Collections Online as 'Mountainous Landscape' by Joseph Mallord William Turner (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This unidentified lake view 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 copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). The ‘finished drawings’ they were commissioned to produce were the result of a strict division of labour: ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. As the young artists reported to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ whilst ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1 The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings, the majority of which, unlike this work, were inscribed with the location.

A sketch by Dayes may have provided the model for this work, but, without any indication of the subject, it has not been possible to confirm this. The subject certainly seems to be British, which all but eliminates Cozens from the list of potential sources, and a scene in the Lake District is perhaps the most likely option. As with the numerous copies that Girtin and Turner created from compositions by Cozens, it was the slight sketches and outlines that Dayes made on his travels that were used as the sources for their more finished watercolours. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained several hundred of Dayes’ sketches, including seven ‘Views on the lakes, blue and Indian ink’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lots 42 and 45), all presumably made on his only documented visit to the Lake District, in 1789, and there is no evidence that Monro owned any of the older artist’s studio works. None of the sketch material has been identified, no doubt because of their unprepossessing character, and they presumably required considerable transformational skills from the young artists employed by Monro.

The majority of the copies sold at Monro’s posthumous sale were listed as being by Turner working alone, and this generally remained the case until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, since when the joint attribution of the Monro School works to Turner and Girtin has increasingly become the norm (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). This work has hitherto been listed as solely by Turner, though arguably enough of Girtin’s characteristic pencil work, with its inventive touches, is still apparent (particularly in the middle ground and the hill to the right) to indicate his involvement in its production. However, this is at a subordinate level, with Turner’s washes of colour in the water, rocks and sky subtly differentiating the various elements of the landscape.

by Greg Smith


  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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