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

The View over the Bay of Baia to Ischia and Procida, from near the Scuola de Virgilio

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0728: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The View over the Bay of Baia to Ischia and Procida, from near the Scuola de Virgilio, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 14.6 × 25.4 cm, 5 ¾ × 10 in. British Museum, London (1958,0712.395).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The View over the Bay of Baia to Ischia and Procida, from near the Scuola de Virgilio
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
14.6 × 25.4 cm, 5 ¾ × 10 in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Italian View: Naples and Environs; Italian View: Naples and Environs; The View from Above

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018;


John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1770–1859); then by descent to John, Lord Northwick; his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 4 November 1920, no.478 as 'View over Lake Baia' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons (stock no.9838), £40 plus five per cent commission, for Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868-1958) (lent to London, 1922); bequeathed to the Museum, 1958

Exhibition History

London, 1922, no.84 as ’View near Naples’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner


British Museum, Collection as by Joseph Mallord William Turner (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This view over Baia to the islands of Ischia and Procida 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

As with many of the Monro School drawings of Italian scenes, it has not been possible to trace the precise source for this view, but it is sufficiently close to a view sketched by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) in October 1782 (see TG0728a figure 1) to be reasonably confident that it was made from another drawing of his, taken from a more elevated position. The 1782 sketch, which was the ultimate source for another Monro School watercolour (TG0728a), is inscribed ‘From the road leading to the Schola di Virgilio’. This refers to the so-called School of Virgil, a set of Roman ruins on the coast, west of Posillipo, that were associated with the Roman poet Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro (70–19 BC)) in his mythical guise as a magus, or sorcerer. From here, as the sketch records, can be seen the islands of Procida and Ischia, the latter of which is the high point in the distance, and the promontory of Miseno, extending in the centre from Baia, is also visible. The lost drawing on which the Monro School watercolour is based may also have been made in 1782, but the fact that this copy is on a much larger scale than the more distant view to the south west suggests that the original was probably taken on Cozens’ first, less well-documented visit to Naples, in 1777, when the artist generally sketched on a more generous scale. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by Cozens, so the patron must have borrowed all but a few of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner.

The majority of the Italian scenes sold at Monro’s posthumous sale were attributed to Turner alone, and this generally remained the case until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, since when the joint attribution of the Monro School works to Turner and Girtin has increasingly become the norm (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). In this case, however, the British Museum has retained the attribution to Turner, and, given the very subtle and high quality of Turner’s application of watercolour washes, this is quite understandable (Sloan, 1998, p.38). However, and granted that this is a far from exact science, I cannot see any significant difference between the pencil work in this drawing, which is clearly visible in many areas, and the lines that are evident in numerous works in the Turner Bequest that are attributed to both artists. It is true that in a broad landscape the line plays a less significant role than in an architectural subject, but the pencil work does not seem to me to be different qualitatively from, say, that found in the unfinished view of Naples, Castel Sant’Elmo and the Convent of San Martino (TG0659). Moreover, the fact that the washes achieve a rare sophistication does not in itself negate the possibility of an admittedly minor contribution by Girtin.

1794 - 1797

View from the Road Leading to the Scuola di Virgilio, Showing Nisida, the Islands of Ischia and Procida, and the Promontory of Miseno


1794 - 1797

Naples: Castel Sant’Elmo and the Convent of San Martino


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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