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

Rome: A Wall with Trees Overhanging a Road, near the Porta Pinciana

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0560: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Rome: A Wall with Trees Overhanging a Road, near the Porta Pinciana, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 26 × 18.9 cm, 10 ¼ × 7 ⅜ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 49 (D36462).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Rome: A Wall with Trees Overhanging a Road, near the Porta Pinciana
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
26 × 18.9 cm, 10 ¼ × 7 ⅜ in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in
Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Modern Rome

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in November 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 28 June 1833, lot 78 as ‘A book containing 62 interesting sketches in the neighbourhood of Rome and Naples, by Turner, in Indian ink and blue’; bought by Thomas Griffith on behalf of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £21; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1229 as 'Near the Porta Pinciana, Rome' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.42; Turner Online as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of an enclosed road with overhanging trees is mounted in an album of watercolours bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 78). The sixty-four drawings were the outcome of a unique collaboration between Girtin and Turner working together at Monro’s London home at the Adelphi. Here the artists 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

A Lane near the Porta Pinciana, Rome

 The scene in Rome near one of the city’s gates to the east is based on a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that he realised as a watercolour in 1780 (see figure 1), and as such it is comparable with another Monro School subject with a similar source, The Chapel of San Giuliano, Overlooking the River Tiber (TG0557). The watercolour was painted as a gift for the miniature painter Ozias Humphry (1742–1810) and it is therefore very unlikely that it would have been accessible to the two young artists at Monro’s house. Instead, they would have worked from one of the sketches that Cozens made during his stay in Italy from November 1776 through to March 1779, though sadly few of these survive. However, 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 and no Roman views, the patron must have borrowed much of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82). The idea that the Monro School works were based on Cozens’ watercolours, still occasionally repeated in sales catalogues, is clearly no longer tenable, therefore, not even when, as here, a finished work by him is known.

The album of drawings was sold in 1833 as the work of Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for the watercolours, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1229; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). This is surely the case here, though Girtin’s pencil work is not prominent and the quality of Turner’s colouring is not of the highest order either. Although the two artists spent three winters working for Monro, it has not proved possible to chart any development in the results of their labours, and I have made no attempt to date the works to a specific year even though it is tempting to put weaker examples such as this down to inexperience.

1794 - 1797

The Chapel of San Giuliano, Overlooking the River Tiber, near the Milvian Bridge


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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