For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) John Robert Cozens

Naples: Santa Maria del Parto, Mergellina

(?) 1797

Primary Image: TG0652: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Naples: Santa Maria del Parto, Mergellina, (?) 1797, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (watermark: BUDGEN / 1797), 21.3 × 35.2 cm, 8 ⅜ × 13 ⅞ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXV, 28 (D36549).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Naples: Santa Maria del Parto, Mergellina
(?) 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (watermark: BUDGEN / 1797)
21.3 × 35.2 cm, 8 ⅜ × 13 ⅞ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Naples and Environs

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235 as 'Italian town on coast' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.55; Turner Online as 'Posilippo: Buildings on the Shore' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of Mergellina, on the coast near Naples, with the church of Santa Maria del Parto prominent in the centre, 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

View from a Garden at Posillipo

As with many of the Monro School drawings of Italian scenes, it has not been possible to trace the precise source for this view, looking south along the Neapolitan coast. But, as was generally the case, it is likely to have been a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), and there is a drawing in one of the seven sketchbooks of material that are associated with his second visit to the Continent (between 1782 and 1783) that is close enough to establish the Cozens source with a reasonable degree of confidence (see figure 1). It is unlikely that Monro had access to these sketchbooks, which were either acquired by William Beckford (1760–1844) at Cozens’ 1794 studio sale or were retained by Beckford after his journey with the artist. The Monro School work, despite its similarities with this composition, was therefore probably made after another untraced Cozens sketch, and this may have been made on the earlier, less well-documented trip (in 1777), when the artist tended to work on this, more generous scale.

The sketchbook drawing is inscribed, and this helps to identify the scene depicted here as the port of Mergellina. The inscription lists ‘The Promontory of Minerva … Isle of Capri … The King’s Villa … Church & Convent of Sanazzaro’ and notes that the view was taken ‘From the Garden of the Villa at Pauslippo’. The church of ‘Sanazzaro’ proved particularly difficult to identify as Cozens’ inscription follows local usage, which long ago changed. The church visible to the left is actually Santa Maria del Parto and it acquired its popular name from the sixteenth-century Neapolitan poet Jacopo Sannazaro (1458–1530), who was a beneficiary and is buried there.

This watercolour was bought by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833, where the bulk of the Monro School copies were listed as being by Turner alone. The cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin was responsible for watercolours such as this example, though more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when Girtin’s inventive and fluent hand is clearly apparent, particularly in the buildings in the middle ground. Elsewhere, the washes in a simple palette of blues and greys are applied more broadly than is often the case in the Monro School watercolours, including a lovely watery sky that in other circumstances might have suggested that the work was sketched in colour on the spot. The looser, more spontaneous effect is undoubtedly helped by the use of a laid paper, which has quite different handling qualities from the vast majority of the smoother supports used for the Monro School drawings (generally a Whatman wove). The paper, which has the watermark ‘Budgen 1797’ (Thomas Budgen of Dartford Mill, Kent), is much rougher in texture and closer to the type of support favoured by Girtin from 1796 onwards, and, as with the fine Monro School view Vallombrosa Abbey (TG0669), one wonders whether the artist was the sole executant here as well. The date of the paper, indicating that this must have been one of the last works executed at Monro’s house, should also give us reason to pause, because, although one might associate the sky with Girtin’s later practice, there are no other elements, either in the outline drawing or the colouring, that might not equally be dated to an earlier period. It is ironic, therefore, that one of only two Monro School watercolours that we can date with reasonable precision (the other being TG0695) shows up the error of trying to narrow the date down to anything more specific than the three- or four-year spread I have consistently applied to the remainder of the drawings: the Monro School works essentially remain in a vacuum, distinct from either artist’s stylistic development.

1797 - 1798

Vallombrosa Abbey


1797 - 1798

Fort de l’Écluse on the River Rhône


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).

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.