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

The Junction of the Two Rhines at Reichenau

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0486: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Junction of the Two Rhines at Reichenau, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: 1794 / J WHATMAN), 30.1 × 47.9 cm, 11 ⅞ × 18 ⅞ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXV, 25 (D36546).

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 Junction of the Two Rhines at Reichenau
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper (watermark: 1794 / J WHATMAN)
30.1 × 47.9 cm, 11 ⅞ × 18 ⅞ in

‘Richenau / Junction of the two Rhines’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
River Scenery; Swiss View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235 as '"Richenau. Junction of the two Rhines"' by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as 'The Junction of the Hinter- and Vorder-Rhein at Reichenau' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the junction of the two arms of the river Rhine at Reichenau 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 watercolour is one of a group of fifteen or so Swiss subjects that were acquired by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 and that are now in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain.

The title of the work comes from an inscription on the back in Girtin’s handwriting, and he presumably copied it from the drawing on which the work is based. Although that work has not been traced, it is highly likely to have been a sketch by John Robert Cozens (1752–97), who was in the area of Reichenau in September 1776 and whose drawing of nearby Sargans Castle provided the basis for another Monro School subject (TG0489). Cozens’ sketch was probably in the form of a simple, though large-scale, outline drawing, which would have needed careful interpretation to create the ‘finished drawings’ that Monro required for his collection. In all, there are as many as sixty Monro School views of the Alpine scenery of France, Switzerland and northern Italy that can, with varying degrees of certainty, be associated with Cozens’ first trip to the Continent in 1776. The scenes invariably depict the natural scenery of the Alps, and Cozens only occasionally paused to record the picturesque architecture of the region; in this case the two wooden covered bridges at Reichenau that are so characteristic of the region feature prominently.

Establishing the division of labour within a Monro School drawing is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave much of the pencil work showing through. Although the nature of the subject did not require much detail, Girtin’s hand is apparent under Turner’s economical use of a simple palette of greys and blues. As with a number of the larger Monro School subjects, limits placed on the artist’s time meant that the application of washes was not always completed.

1794 - 1797

Sargans Castle


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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