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

The Village of Bramans in the Haute Maurienne in Savoy

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0509: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), The Village of Bramans in the Haute Maurienne in Savoy, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 11.5 × 18.5 cm, 4 ½ × 7 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F05200-0125 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Artist's source: John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Bramans in the Haute Maurienne in Savoy, graphite and varnish on laid paper, 11.4 × 19.1 cm, 4 ½ × 7 ½ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.4517).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • The Village of Bramans in the Haute Maurienne in Savoy
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
11.5 × 18.5 cm, 4 ½ × 7 ¼ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
French View: The Alps

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


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; ... James Bellhouse Gaskell (1848–1925); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 3 May 1926, lot 186 as 'A Mountainous Landscape, with a ruined castle' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by 'Sampson', £5 15s 6d; Isabel Rutherford; Sotheby's, 29 November 1973, lot 112 as 'An Alpine Landscape, with a group of buildings to the right' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by J. Fielding, £1,500; Sotheby's, 22 March 1979, lot 108 as 'A View in the Swiss Alps, with a village on a cliff' by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £1,200

About this Work

This view of the Alpine village of Bramans in Savoy, hitherto unidentified, was copied from a drawing made by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (see the source image above). It was produced at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) 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’. The majority of the resulting watercolours saw the two artists engaged in a unique collaboration; as they later recalled, Girtin ‘drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’ 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

Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained only twenty or so sketches by ‘Cozens’, so the patron must have borrowed the majority of the ‘outlines or unfinished drawings’ copied by Girtin and Turner. In this case, the source of the watercolour, a simple tracing inscribed ‘Br of Mauriennes –’, was almost certainly purchased at the sale of ‘Mr COZENS’ in July 1794 by Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827). As Kim Sloan has noted, Beaumont mounted ‘215 “tracings” or drawings on oiled paper’ in an album that he presumably lent to Monro and it was from this collection, now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, that the two young artists produced more than fifty watercolours (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.89–91). The Cozens drawing was probably sketched on his return to England in 1779, when it seems that he crossed the Alps at Mont Cenis, having set out from Turin, and it is possible to trace his route in a series of Monro School watercolours that include TG0691 and TG0694. Cozens actually crossed the Alps at Mont Cenis again in 1783, but none of the sketches he made in the last of the seven sketchbooks associated with that trip accord with a Monro School view, and a lost drawing from the earlier journey still seems the likeliest source. Bramans, in the region known as the Haute Maurienne in Savoy, would have been a natural place for a break following the passage over the Mont Cenis Pass. The village is particularly famed for its association with the Carthaginian general Hannibal, who marched his troops, elephants and all, along the valley prior to crossing the border into Italy.

The bulk of the Monro School copies sold at the patron’s posthumous sale, like this work, were attributed to Turner alone. Although many have since been accepted as the result of the joint efforts of Girtin and Turner, especially following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984, others, as here, have remained under Turner’s name (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). The work is known only from a poor-quality black and white photograph published in 1979, and at this distance all that can be said with any confidence is that there is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than a typical collaborative effort between Turner and Girtin.

1794 - 1797

A Distant View of the Alps, Taken from the Plains North of Turin


1794 - 1797

Lake Mont Cenis


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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