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

The Royal Park at Astroni

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0737: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Royal Park at Astroni, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 18 × 23.5 cm, 7 ⅛ × 9 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery, Windsor, Connecticut (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Royal Park at Astroni
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
18 × 23.5 cm, 7 ⅛ × 9 ¼ in

‘At Frascarti, Villa Dragoni’ on the back

Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: Naples and Environs; Trees and Woods

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 27 June 1833, lot 76 as 'Astroni, Radicofani, and Gaeta' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Hixon', £8 8s; ... Sotheby’s, 1 March 1984, lot 277 as 'Astroni, Italy' by Thomas Girtin, £550; Nadeau’s, Windsor, Connecticut, 18 September 2021, lot 284 as 'Attributed to Thomas Girtin', $100

About this Work

This view of the royal park in the crater at Astroni, west of Naples, is based on a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see figure 1). It appears to have been produced during a period when Girtin was employed, together with his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), at the home of their mutual patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Here they were paid to make ‘finished drawings’ from the ‘Copies’ of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings of Cozens’ and other artists and, as the two young artists later recalled, Girtin generally ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1 In all they produced several hundred drawings after the sketches and outlines of Cozens, though this example does not fit into the general pattern of their work for Monro. Certainly, it is based on a sketch by Cozens, but, whilst the Monro School works saw a strict division of labour, with Girtin producing an outline from the source material and Turner adding washes of colour, here both elements seem to have been carried out by Girtin alone. Even though there is a tendency for the art market to prize Turner’s contribution over that of Girtin, this work was attributed to Girtin when it appeared at auction in 1984 and again in 2021, and, as far as can be told from an online image, Turner was not involved in its production. Monro’s posthumous sale included a number of ‘views in Italy’ that were attributed to just Girtin, including ‘Three, by Girtin, after Cozens’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lot 35), and it is possible that this work is one of those. However, the 1833 sale also included a view of Astroni attributed to Turner (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 76), and it is more than likely that the scale of Girtin’s labours for Monro had already been compromised within a few years of his death.

Cozens’ on-the-spot sketch is inscribed ‘Astruni – Novr.-11’, together with various notes, including ‘chesnut’, ‘all bare earth’, ‘light colour’ and ‘Light earth – no verdure’ (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.313). It is one of eight views of the wooded crater used by the king of Naples for hunting wild boar to be found in the fourth volume of sketches Cozens made on his second Italian trip. Cozens produced a particularly fine watercolour of the composition for William Beckford (1760–1844), with whom he had travelled to Naples in 1782, and this features a hunt in full swing (see figure 2). Comparing the two works brings home two points: firstly, the impossibility that the Monro School copies were made from Cozens’ studio watercolours, as was once consistently claimed, and secondly, that the ‘finished drawings’ that Monro commissioned were finished only in comparison with the very slight materials that he was able to borrow. For there is significant evidence to suggest that Beckford retained the seven sketchbooks filled by Cozens on his trip, meaning that Girtin would have had to work from a tracing of the on-the-spot sketch. The need to work from a simple outline certainly would explain why Girtin did not follow the instructions noted by Cozens on his tinted sketch, and it would also account for the very different distribution of light in the Monro School work.

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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