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

Rocca di Papa, from Monte Cavo

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0602: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Rocca di Papa, from Monte Cavo, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 16.8 × 23.5 cm, 6 ⅝ × 9 ½ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.840).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Rocca di Papa, from Monte Cavo
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
16.8 × 23.5 cm, 6 ⅝ × 9 ½ in

‘Monte Cava / Rocca del Pappa from’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The Roman Campagna

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 81 as 'Rocca del Papa, Chartreuse, &c., 3', by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £6 15s; ... Dr Crawford J. Pocock (1840-90); Cotswold Gallery, London; bought from them by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1927, £25; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

Cotswold Gallery, 1927, no.3 as ’An Italian Hillside Village’ by Thomas Girtin; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.20 as ’Rocca del Papa, with Monte Cavo’ by Thomas Girtin; London, 1962a, no.25 as ’Monro School. Attributed to Thomas Girtin’; Reading, 1969, no.31 as ’Monro School. Attributed to Thomas Girtin’; New Haven, 1980, no.174 as by ’(?) Girtin’; New Haven, 1986a, no.119 as ’Rocca del Papa, with Monte Cavo’ by Thomas Girtin


Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.205 as 'Rocca del Papa, with Monte Cavo' by Thomas Girtin; YCBA Online as 'Rocca del Papa, with Monte Cavo' by Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the hilltop town of Rocca di Papa in the Roman Campagna near Lake Albano appears to have been included in the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and is therefore one of more than a hundred and fifty Italian scenes that Girtin produced at the patron’s home at the Adelphi (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 81). These were almost invariably produced in collaboration with Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), who was employed with Girtin 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. 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’, they reported to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’, though ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1

As with the majority of the views of the Roman Campagna completed at Monro’s home, it has not been possible to trace the source of this view of Rocca di Papa. In general, Girtin and Turner worked from compositions 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. Few of these survive, but 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 produced works such as this (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82).

Girtin made several hundred pencil copies at Monro’s home from myriad sources. Though ‘Turner washed in the effects’ in the vast majority of cases to create the distinctive Monro School drawings, there are inevitably a number of examples either where the outline drawings were not touched on or where Girtin himself added the colour, as seems to have been the case here (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798). Although the watercolour was probably sold as by ‘Turner’, it has always been attributed to Girtin working on his own, and surely that is correct. The application of colour washes is quite different to Turner’s, broader in effect and more decorative, and some of the pencil work, which is quite clearly by Girtin, has been applied over the watercolour. All of this is at odds with the clear division of labour found in the mass of the Monro School works.

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.