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

Tivoli: A Mausoleum, Known as the Temple of Tosse

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0598: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Tivoli: A Mausoleum, Known as the Temple of Tosse, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 21 × 26.7 cm, 8 ¼ × 10 ½ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 35 (D36448).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Tivoli: A Mausoleum, Known as the Temple of Tosse
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
21 × 26.7 cm, 8 ¼ × 10 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in

‘Temple at Tossa, two miles from Tivoli’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin (pasted down, but transcribed by a later hand on the lower right of the mount)

Part of
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The Roman Campagna

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.1229 as '"Temple at Tossa, two miles from Tivoli"' by Thomas Girtin; Wilton, 1984a, p.18; Turner Online as 'A Temple at Tossa' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of what may have been a ruined Roman mausoleum is one of six Tivoli scenes mounted in an album of watercolours 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

The ruin, located near the so-called Villa of Maecenas on the ancient route of the Via Tiburtina, was known in the eighteenth century as the Temple of Tosse, which can be translated as the Temple of the Cough, or Coughing. The origin of the curious name may have come from the family whose mausoleum it appears to have been – Tussis – which may have been amended to Tosse when the building was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, whose intervention was invoked against the fever. Santa Maria della Tosse (St Mary of the Cough), as it became known, was abandoned by the eighteenth century, but the ruins retained their old name and it was as the Tempio della Tosse that numerous artists, including most influentially Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–78), depicted the scene.

Tivoli: A Mausoleum, Known as the Temple of Tosse

As with many of the Monro School watercolours of scenes in the Roman Campagna, it has not been possible to trace the precise source for this work, but it is likely to have been made from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) and, more specifically, from sketches and tracings that he made during or after his stay in Italy from November 1776 through to March 1779. Seven sketches by Cozens of some of the most popular sites in Tivoli are contained in an album in the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, including views of the so-called Temple of the Sibyl (see TG0589 figure 1) and the monumental building known as the Villa of Maecenas, which is close to the ‘Temple of Tosse’ (see TG0592 figure 2), where the building is just visible to the right), and it was from just such an outline that Girtin probably produced his pencil drawing for Turner to add washes of colour. A tracing of a drawing by Cozens showing the same ruin from a different angle (see figure 1), which has been wrongly identified as the Temple of Venus at Baia, is bound in an album of drawings by the artist in the collection of the National Library of Wales (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, p.123).

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.1229; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when the colour washes leave much of the pencil work showing through. An architectural subject generally requires a more detailed underdrawing than a landscape, and in this case Girtin’s inventive and fluent hand is clearly apparent under Turner’s economical use of a simple monochrome palette.

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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