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

The Reichenbach Falls, the Fourth View

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0470: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Reichenbach Falls, the Fourth View, 1794–97, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper, 36.8 × 24.4 cm, 14 ½ × 9 ⅝ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Lowell Libson Ltd.

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Reichenbach Falls, the Fourth View
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper
36.8 × 24.4 cm, 14 ½ × 9 ⅝ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Swiss View; Waterfall Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2003


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lot 80 as 'A scrap-book, containing 66 sketches in Switzerland, in blue and Indian ink' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £21 11s 6d; ... ; Walker’s Galleries, London, 1928; Sir Thomas Barlow (1845–1945); his sale, Sotheby's, 28 June 1944, lot 23 as 'View near Reguenbach' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by 'Hawkins', £32; ... Lowell Libson Ltd, 2003

Exhibition History

Lowell Libson, 2003, no.16 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner


Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.31; Hill, Sublime Sites (Online) (Accessed 13/02/2023)

About this Work

Fourth View of the Reichenbach Falls

This view of the famous falls of the Reichenbach 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

This scene, one of seven Monro School views of the Reichenbach Falls in the valley of the Hasle, was copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that he probably executed for Richard Payne Knight (1751–1824) in 1776 (see figure 1) (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.22). It is highly unlikely that Monro had access to Cozens’ finished watercolours, however, and the work was presumably copied either from an on-the-spot drawing made in September 1776 or from one of the tracings the artist was in the habit of producing from his own compositions. Cozens’ sketches from 1776 have not survived, but they were probably large in scale and little more than summary outlines, and that would explain why the Monro School copy is roughly the same size as the watercolour but differs significantly in the distribution of light on the rocks and the vegetation in the foreground, all of which would have been a matter of interpretation for an artist working from a simple drawing. 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.

Fourth View of the Reichenbach Falls

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 clearly. Although the nature of the subject did not require detailed work, Girtin’s hand is apparent under Turner’s economical use of a monochrome palette of greys. Girtin’s employment at Monro’s house may have been a mechanical chore, but in the longer term it provided a repertoire of compositions that equipped him to depict sublime scenery such as The Ogwen Falls (TG1330), whilst it prepared Turner for his first trip to the Continent, where in 1802 he was able to sketch a similar view of the Reichenbach Falls for himself (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (2431)).2

An inferior version of the composition is in the collection of The Whitworth, Manchester (see figure 2). It is the same size as the Monro School copy by Girtin and Turner, and shows every sign of having been copied from it, rather than the Cozens original. This suggests again that only the former was available to artists working at Monro’s home.

1798 - 1799

The Ogwen Falls


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 Turner's treatment of the subject is discussed in fascinating detail by David Hill in his online publication Sublime Sites ('In Turner’s Footsteps between Lucerne and Thun: #27 Around Meiringen').

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