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

The View from Salerno, Looking towards Vietri sul Mare

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0719: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The View from Salerno, Looking towards Vietri sul Mare, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 18.8 × 25.3 cm, 7 ⅜ × 10 in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 58 (D36471).

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 View from Salerno, Looking towards Vietri sul Mare
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
18.8 × 25.3 cm, 7 ⅜ × 10 in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in
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.1230 as 'Bay on rocky coast' by Thomas Girtin; Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.58; Wilton, 1984a, p.18; Turner Online as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 08/09/2022)

About this Work

This view from the beach at Salerno, looking towards the next coastal village, Vietri sul Mare, 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

From Salerno, Looking towards Vietri

The view is based on a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that is known today from an on-the spot sketch contained in the third of the seven sketchbooks that survive from the artist’s second trip to Italy, between 1782 and 1783 (see figure 1). The drawing is inscribed ‘From Salerno’ and is dated 19 September, by which time Cozens’ patron William Beckford (1760–1844) in whose company he had travelled from England, had departed, leaving the artist free to explore the Neapolitan region. Cozens spent a fortnight sketching the scenery along the coast from Salerno and inland from the town, making twenty sketches, which ultimately formed the sources of nine or so Monro School subjects. All but one of these were produced from tracings that Cozens himself made from his sketches, presumably because his patron retained the sketchbooks. Although no tracing for this composition has been found, we can be reasonably sure that the Monro School artists worked from one that has not survived, rather than the original drawing. This can be demonstrated by overlaying images of the sketch and the watercolour. Thus, whilst the watercolour precisely follows the outlines of the forms recorded in the sketchbook drawing, it departs at every point from the washes that Cozens presumably applied to it on the spot. The intermediary tracing, comprising no more than the bare outlines of the composition, meant that Turner, on taking up Girtin’s copy, would have had to invent the distribution of light and shade so that his washes of grey and blue could never replicate the distribution of the tones that Cozens employed.

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.1230; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes by Turner leave some of the pencil work untouched in order to create highlights. In practice, Girtin did little more than trace the general outlines of the composition and it was left to Turner to obscure the essentially mechanical task of replication.

Image Overlay

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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