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

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

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0557: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Chapel of San Giuliano, Overlooking the River Tiber, near the Milvian Bridge, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 21.2 × 28.5 cm, 8 ⅜ × 11 ¼ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 50 (D36463).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Chapel of San Giuliano, Overlooking the River Tiber, near the Milvian Bridge
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
21.2 × 28.5 cm, 8 ⅜ × 11 ¼ 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 '"House on crag"' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.43; Wilton, 1984a, p.16; Turner Online as 'On the Tiber near Ponte Molle' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view on the river Tiber near Acqua Acetosa, showing the tiny chapel of San Giuliano, 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

On the River Tiber near the Ponte Molle, Three Miles from Rome

The view 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, Rome: A Wall with Trees Overhanging a Road, near the Porta Pinciana (TG0560). Although the Cozens drawing measures roughly the same dimensions (21 × 30.3 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 15/16 in), it is unlikely that Girtin and Turner copied it or, indeed, had access to it. Instead, there are a number of visual clues that suggest that the work was copied from a lost outline sketch or a tracing of the composition, not least of which is the way that the artists have completely misunderstood the character of the building. Thus, a puff of smoke has been added to what they presumably thought was a chimney on a house, when the watercolour clearly shows the feature to be a bell tower on a small chapel. Other significant differences include the manner in which the far bank of the river recedes into the distance rather than rising up steeply to hem in the river, and indeed the very different and less dramatic way that light is distributed across the rocks to the left. All of this collectively suggests that the artists had access only to an outline drawing without any shading. The overwhelming majority of the copies made at Monro’s house came from compositions from which Cozens did not himself make a watercolour, and, even when one does exist, as here, it is clear that it was the outline to which Monro had access. These were ‘finished drawings’ made from ‘outlines or unfinished’ works, 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).

The identity of the chapel on the crag was established by Richard Stephens, whose online catalogue of the work of Francis Towne (1739–1816) includes an image of a similar view also dating from 1780 (Towne Online, FT174). The chapel of San Giuliano at Acqua Acetosa occupies a dramatic situation on the Tiber outside Rome near the Milvian Bridge, known locally as the Ponte Molle, and it joins a distinct group of Roman subjects amongst the Monro School copies that were the outcome of Cozens’ explorations north along the river during his first trip to the Continent, between 1776 and 1779, including A View on the River Tiber, North of Rome (TG0648). The chapel and its distinctive situation also form the basis of a celebrated landscape by Richard Wilson (1713/14–82), known as The White Monk (Toledo Museum of Art (1958.38)), though it is not known whether Cozens was aware of this.

Monro School drawings were invariably sold in 1833 as by Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for many of them, including this example, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1229; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). In this case, although Turner has carefully washed in an atmospheric sky to give strength to the smoke coming from the ‘chimney’, the lighter areas, which contrast so pointedly with Cozens’ watercolour, allow us to appreciate Girtin’s pencil work showing through, albeit that his outlines are less significant in a pure landscape compared to an architectural subject.

1794 - 1797

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


1794 - 1797

A View on the River Tiber, North of Rome


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.