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

The Norman Tower at Maiori on the Coast near Salerno

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0667: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Norman Tower at Maiori on the Coast near Salerno, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 19.9 × 29.2 cm, 7 ⅞ × 11 ½ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 38 (D36451).

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 Norman Tower at Maiori on the Coast near Salerno
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
19.9 × 29.2 cm, 7 ⅞ × 11 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in

‘near Salerno’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin (pasted down and transcribed (incorrectly) as 'near Palermo' by a later hand, on the lower right side of the mount)

Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Naples and Environs

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 '"Near Palermo"' by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as 'A Fortification on Rocks by the Sea' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the Norman Tower at Maiori, on the coast near Salerno, which has hitherto been unidentified, is mounted in an album of watercolours that was 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

Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809), after Pietro Fabris (active c.1740–84), etching and aquatint, 'A View of a Castle on the Amalphi Coast, in the Gulf of Salerno' for <i>Views in or Near Naples</i>, 1 January 1778, 37.1 × 54 cm, 14 ⅝ × 21 ¼ in. British Museum, London (1904,0819.768).

The identity of the fortress at Maiori, on the coast between Amalfi and Salerno, has remained a mystery for so long presumably because of what appears to have been a misreading of a no-longer-visible inscription on the back, which suggested that the tower was ‘near Palermo’. Knowing that John Robert Cozens (1752–97) did not travel to Sicily, Tom Girtin (1913–94) concentrated his search for the source for the Monro School watercolour on the amateur artist Charles Gore (1729–1807), looking through the extensive collection of his drawings at the Goethe-Nationalmuseum in Weimar, though with no success. If we substitute Salerno for Palermo, however, and move west along the coast, the thirteenth-century tower soon comes into view and its identity is confirmed in a print by Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809) after Pietro Fabris (active c.1740–84), dating from 1778, which shows almost exactly the same view (see figure 1). Whilst it is possible that this print was the source for the Monro School view, albeit with the boats and figures removed and the composition simplified to the right, there are sufficient differences to suggest that a lost sketch by Cozens was again the basis for the composition. 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 the bulk of the material from which Girtin and Turner produced works such as this (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82).2

The album containing this drawing was sold in 1833 as the work of Turner, but the cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin alone was responsible for the watercolours, whilst more recently Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1229; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave some of the pencil work untouched in order to create highlights, with the result that Girtin’s inventive and fluent hand is clearly apparent alongside Turner’s economical use of a simple palette of blues and greys.

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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