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

The Coast at Vietri sul Mare, from near Salerno

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0722: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Coast at Vietri sul Mare, from near Salerno, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 16 × 22.9 cm, 6 ¼ × 9 in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (DYCE.959).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Coast of Vietri from Above Salerno, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 19.1 × 24.8 cm, 7 ½ × 9 ¾ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4597).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Coast at Vietri sul Mare, from near Salerno
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
16 × 22.9 cm, 6 ¼ × 9 in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Naples and Environs

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2018


Revd Alexander Dyce (1798–1869); bequeathed to the Museum, 1869


South Kensington Museum, 1874, p.134 as '"From above the Town of Salerno" by Joseph Mallord William Turner (Ascribed to)'; V&A Collections Online as 'ascribed to Joseph Mallord William Turner' (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This view, looking along the coast to Vietri sul Mare from near Salerno, was copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see the source image above). It was produced at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) 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’. The majority of the resulting watercolours saw the two artists engaged in a unique collaboration; as they later recalled, Girtin ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’ 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

Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by Cozens, so the patron must have borrowed the majority of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner. In this case, the source of the watercolour, a simple outline inscribed ‘Coast of Vietri – from Salerno – Septr. 22’, was almost certainly purchased at Cozens’ studio sale in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).2 As Kim Sloan has noted, Beaumont mounted ‘215 “tracings” or drawings on oiled paper’ in an album that he presumably lent to Monro, and it was from this collection, now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). The source drawing was traced by Cozens himself from an on-the-spot sketch he made in 1782 on a second visit to Italy (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.269), when the artist travelled with his patron William Beckford (1760–1844) and stayed in the Naples area for four months. The sketch is contained in the third of seven sketchbooks that survive from the trip (The Whitworth, Manchester (D.1975.6.10)), and it was presumably traced by Cozens because the books were retained by Beckford. Cozens travelled to Salerno in the middle of September, when, following Beckford’s departure, he was finally free to explore the scenery along the coast, making twenty sketches, which ultimately formed the sources of nine or so Monro School subjects.

Monro’s posthumous sale contained at least three views of Salerno, all of which were attributed solely to Turner, and this generally remained the case until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, since when the joint authorship of the Monro School works to Turner and Girtin has increasingly become the norm (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). In this case the attribution to Turner alone has been retained and, given that the watercolour has been quite heavily worked with a full palette of colours, this is not surprising, not least because Girtin’s pencil work has been all but completely effaced. There is, however, no clear evidence to suspect that the work departs from the division of labour that the two artists themselves described to Farington in 1798, and, if anything, the watercolour washes might be deemed to be closer to Girtin’s more generalised style than Turner’s. Whatever the case, the artist who added the washes here chose not to follow the note on the outline, which reads, ‘illumined vapour on the upper part of the highest mountain’, unlike Cozens himself, who created from this meagre resource an altogether more dramatic watercolour (Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford (P.63)).

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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