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

The Bridge at Avignon

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0991: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) Alexander Cozens (1717–86), The Bridge at Avignon, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 22.5 × 33 cm, 8 ⅞ × 14 ⅜ in. Private Collection, untraced.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F05203-0005 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Alexander Cozens (1717-1788)
Title
  • The Bridge at Avignon
Date
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
22.5 × 33 cm, 8 ⅞ × 14 ⅜ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
French View: The South

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0991
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue

Provenance

Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 108 as 'The bridge at Avignon, in colours, and three in Indian ink; views in Rome. 4' by 'Turner'; bought by 'F. Moon', £8 8s; ... Thomas Crosse; his sale, Christie's, 3 June 1852, lot 147 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; ... Mrs Ashton; Thos. Agnew & Sons

Exhibition History

Manchester, 1857, no.322 (lent by ’R. Freeland’); Agnew’s, 1973, no.70 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Agnew’s, 1976, no.13 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Agnew’s, 1982, no.98 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bibliography

Armstrong, 1902, p.241 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of the famous ruined medieval bridge at Avignon appears to have been ‘The bridge at Civignon, in colours’ sold at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 108), and it certainly displays many of the signs that mark the unique collaboration between Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the patron’s 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

It has not been possible to trace the source for this work, either amongst the extant watercolours and sketches by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) or in the album of drawings and tracings at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, which provided the basis for so many of the Monro School subjects. It is not thought, in any case, that Cozens returned overland from Italy through France, but there is a possibility that his father, Alexander Cozens (1717–86), journeyed this way to or from Italy in 1746, in which case his route might have connected with the voyage along the Mediterranean coast that Kim Sloan has identified as part of Alexander’s trip (Sloan, 1986, pp.127–28). This earlier journey provided the raw material for a number of other Monro School subjects in the south of France, at Nice (TG0680) and off the coast of Monaco (TG0682), and a visit to Avignon might have been a logical stopover on the route to or from London.

The work was attributed to Turner alone when it was sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833, and in all of its subsequent public appearances it has gone under that description. The work is known only from a poor-quality black and white photograph taken in 1982, and at this distance all that can be said with any confidence is that there is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than a typical collaborative effort between Turner and Girtin.

1794 - 1797

A View of Nice, with Mont Alban Beyond

TG0680

1794 - 1797

A Ship off a Mountainous Coast, Known as ‘Monaco’

TG0682

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Footnotes

  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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