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

Rome: The View from the Corsini Gardens

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0564: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Rome: The View from the Corsini Gardens, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 24.8 × 37.5 cm, 9 ¾ × 14 ¾ 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)
  • Rome: The View from the Corsini Gardens
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
24.8 × 37.5 cm, 9 ¾ × 14 ¾ in

'From the Corsini Garden in the [Longana] Rome / Turner' on the back

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Modern Rome

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2007


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 92 as 'The Corsini and Albani Palaces, &c. in blue and Indian ink, 13' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Molteno', £12 12s; ... Christie’s, 9 November 1976, lot 35 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by P & D Colnaghi & Co. Ltd, £2,600; Christie's, 17 November 1981, lot 25 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £2,200; Christie's, 20 March 1984, lot 18, £1,728; Sotheby's, 13 July 1989, lot 117 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, £6,280; Christie’s, 21 November 2007, lot 99 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, £19,700

Exhibition History

Colnaghi’s, 1979, no.48 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view out over Rome, looking south-east from the Corsini Gardens, 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 the majority of the Roman views completed at Monro’s home, it has not been possible to trace the source for this view of Rome framed by the vegetation of the extensive gardens of the Villa Corsini, though it is likely to have been a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97). Only a small proportion of the sketches that Cozens made during his stay in Italy from November 1776 through to March 1779 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 outlines or tracings 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, not even when, as here, the copy is comparatively large. Not only is there no Cozens watercolour of this subject but also sufficient large-scale outlines survive, notably in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London (see TG0578 figure 1), to suggest that even the biggest Monro School drawings were not copied from his finished studio drawings.

This watercolour appears to have been amongst the many hundreds of Monro School copies sold at the patron’s posthumous sale in 1833, when, as with the majority, it was listed as being by Turner alone (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 92). It was also under an attribution to Turner that it reappeared at auction until, on the advice of Andrew Wilton, it was finally catalogued as a collaboration between the two artists (Exhibitions: Sotheby’s, 13 July 1989, lot 117). The sparing application by Turner of monochrome washes leaves Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship readily apparent and it is particularly suited to what is a predominantly architectural view.

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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