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 (?) Edward Dayes

The Lodore Falls

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0775: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The Lodore Falls, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 15.9 × 23.5 cm, 6 ¼ × 9 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.940).

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 (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The Lodore Falls
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
15.9 × 23.5 cm, 6 ¼ × 9 ¼ in

'Turner' lower centre

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
The Lake District; Waterfall Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Gallery Website


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 88 as 'Llangollen, Lodore, Llanberis, &c. 6' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Wills', £3 13s; ... Tom Girtin (1913–94); bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975


YCBA Online as 'Waterfall of Lodore, Cumberland' by Joseph Mallord William Turner (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the Lodore Falls, close to the banks of Derwentwater in the Lake District, was made 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. Their task, as they recalled to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), was to copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). The ‘finished drawings’ they were commissioned to produce were the result of a strict division of labour: ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. As the young artists reported, ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ whilst ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1 The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings of which at least twenty were views in the Lake District.

The majority of the Monro School Lake District scenes were made after sketches by Dayes, but this view seems to be based on a composition by Cozens that is known from a studio watercolour (see figure 1). The sequence of events is difficult to unravel since it is unlikely that Cozens himself visited the Lake District, and his watercolour was probably based on the work of another artist, possibly one of his patrons, Thomas Sunderland (1744–1828). Given that the Cozens watercolour was unlikely to have been accessible to the artists working at Monro’s house, it is possible that an untraced sketch by Sunderland was the source for both finished watercolours, and a watercolour by the amateur of the same subject, from a slightly different angle, survives (see figure 2). Girtin never actually travelled to one of the country’s most popular picturesque regions, for artists as well as their patrons and customers, and nor it seems did Monro. So, as with the continental scenes that Monro commissioned, Girtin and Turner were engaged in a work of interpretation, essentially fleshing out a meagre sketch in a way that might convince as a finished work of art, even if it did not reflect the personal experience of either artist or patron.

Monro’s posthumous sale contained more than forty Lake District views, including one of ‘Lodore’, and all of them were attributed solely to Turner (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lot 88). Unlike Girtin, Turner did visit the region, albeit only briefly in 1797. However, whilst some of the items in the sale may have resulted from this trip, the majority were noted as being in ‘blue and Indian ink’ and therefore employed the restricted palette associated with the Monro School works. This view of the Lodore Falls is still described as being the sole work of Turner, despite the publication in 1984 of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article, which generally established the joint attribution of such works (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). However, just enough pencil work remains visible underneath Turner’s economical washes to be reasonably sure of Girtin’s involvement in its production, albeit at the basic level of providing a simple outline drawing from another source. If anything, it is Turner’s contribution that might be open to question, with the colour washes failing to create either a sense of recession within the landscape or a clear differentiation between the elements of rock, vegetation and water. In general, though, I am inclined to believe that such a falling off of standards in the Monro School subjects resulted from time pressures placed on Girtin and Turner rather than indicating the intervention of other, anonymous hands in the work. Moreover, the poor quality of a given watercolour, in itself, does not indicate that it departed from the division of labour that the two artists themselves described to Farington in 1798.

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.