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

The Bridge at Bonneville in Savoy

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0696: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Bridge at Bonneville in Savoy, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: 1794 / J WHATMAN), 28.9 × 47.6 cm, 11 ⅜ × 18 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Mark Murray Fine Paintings (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Bridge at Bonneville in Savoy
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: 1794 / J WHATMAN)
28.9 × 47.6 cm, 11 ⅜ × 18 ¾ in

'Bonneville in Savoy on / the river Arve' on the back; '15' on the back

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
French View: The Alps; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Online Sale Catalogue


Sir Frederick Rowlatt; then by descent to Juliet Anna Howard; her sale, Sotheby's, 27 June 1951, lot 1 as 'A View in Italy, said to be the Ponte Molle, near Rome' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by the Fine Art Society, London, £50; bought by Margaret Slade, £126; then by descent; Oakridge Auction Gallery, Virginia, USA, online auction, 13 April 2019, lot 211; Oakridge Auction Gallery, Virginia, USA, online auction, 27 June 2020, lot 265 as 'Bonneville in Savoy' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Mark Murray Fine Paintings, New York

Exhibition History

Fine Art Society, 1951, no.20 as ’Bonneville in Savoy, after J. R. Cozens’

About this Work

This view of the bridge over the river Arve at Bonneville 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

The four-arched bridge, which has been wrongly identified as the Ponte Molle near Rome, crosses the river Arve at Bonneville in Savoy. Although the precise source of the composition has typically proved elusive, Bonneville would fit the itinerary of John Robert Cozens (1752–97), who travelled between Geneva and Sallanches in August 1776, sketching scenes in both locations. Given that these were realised by Girtin and Turner at Monro’s house as finished watercolours (TG0451 and TG0455), it is likely that a Cozens sketch was also the source here. This would probably have taken the form of a simple, though large-scale, outline, which would have needed careful interpretation to create the ‘finished drawings’ that Monro required for his collection. 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 much of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82).2 As commonly was the case, the sketch has either not survived, or has not been recognised as Cozens’ work.

The exact division of labour in the Monro School watercolours is rarely straightforward, though in this case the issue has been clarified following the procurement of a good image. Just enough of the pencil work is still apparent through the monochrome watercolour washes to suggest the involvement of Girtin in its production. Indeed, I would not rule out the possibility that Girtin was also responsible for its colouring as well. The manner in which the field patterns in the distance are indicated by parallel diagonal lines, traced rapidly with the tip of the brush, is characteristic of Girtin’s practice and there are also areas of bold pattern making in the foreground which do not obviously relate to Turner’s work. Perhaps even more telling is the way in which significant areas in the buildings and on the bridge are left untouched, allowing the paper to represent the reflection of sunlight on masonry. All of which is reminiscent of Monro School works such as An Entrance to the Roman Amphitheatre at Capua (TG0668) where Girtin alone was responsible for both the pencil work and the colouring.

1794 - 1797

The Lake of Geneva, from Divonne


1794 - 1797

Mont Blanc, from the Banks of the Arve, near Sallanches in Savoy


1794 - 1797

An Entrance to the Roman Amphitheatre at Capua


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).
  2. 2 A full record of the sale is available in the Documents section of the Archive (1794 – Item 1)

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