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Works Thomas Girtin after John Robert Cozens

The View towards Salerno from the Road to Eboli

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG0735: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The View towards Salerno from the Road to Eboli, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 21.1 × 31 cm, 8 ¼ × 12 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1222).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The View towards Salerno from the Road to Eboli
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
21.1 × 31 cm, 8 ¼ × 12 ¼ in
Object Type
Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; Italian View: Naples and Environs

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); given to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and Sabina Girtin, née Cooper (1878–1959), 1913; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

London, 1922, no.76 as ’Possibly by T. Girtin’; New Haven, 1981, no.52 as ’Monro School’; New Haven, 1986a, no.118 as ’On the Road between Salerno and Eboli’ by Thomas Girtin


Bell and Girtin, 1935, p.64; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.83, p.205 as by Thomas Girtin, 'c.1800'; YCBA Online as 'On the Road Between Salerno and Eboli' by 'Monro School, attributed to Girtin' (Accessed 09/09/2022)

About this Work

This view looking across a plain towards the town of Salerno, south 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 it is noticeably larger than the source, which in itself is unique, and perhaps more significantly it appears to be entirely by Girtin. 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 there is no evident pencil work and the washes of colour, with their highly generalised forms, are clearly by Girtin working alone, as Susan Morris has pointed out (Morris, 1986, p.50). The manner in which the simple washes of blue and brown are organised into blocks of colour, with areas of the paper left untouched, is entirely characteristic of Girtin’s work, as is the choice of a rough textured laid paper, which plays a crucial role in the effect of the drawing.

On the Road between Salerno and Eboli, Looking towards Salerno

There are a number of other Monro School works copied from outlines by Cozens that appear to be by Girtin alone, most notably the fine view of Vallombrosa Abbey (TG0669), but this watercolour is of a different order. Stylistically, it seems to have been painted later than the 1797–98 cut-off date for the two artists working together at Monro’s house, and it may even have been produced as late as 1800, as Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak suggest in their catalogue (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.205). 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, there is no reason to believe that Monro appreciated Girtin’s later work, which moved decisively away from the emphasis on clearly delineated topographical content. I suspect that this watercolour was made quite independently, with the artist revisiting an older drawing that he made from the Cozens source in order to produce a sketch-like commodity in keeping with his own stylistic development.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the later date, Girtin treated the source with uncommon freedom, inventing a cliff in the foreground, changing the shape of the mountains behind and ignoring the sea to the left. Cozens’ on-the-spot sketch from 1782, which is inscribed ‘on the road between Salerno & Evoli looking towards Salerno – Novr.7’, is in any case likely to have been known to Girtin in the form of a later tracing, and it may well have been copied again before the production of the watercolour. In its final guise, the work left its prototype far behind, and it is difficult to imagine it being associated with a southern Italian scene had its source not been recognised by Thomas Girtin, an authority on the work of Cozens as well as his great-grandfather.

1797 - 1798

Vallombrosa Abbey


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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