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

Tivoli: A View through an Arch to the Cascade

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0584: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Tivoli: A View through an Arch to the Cascade, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 27.4 × 21 cm, 10 ¾ × 8 ¼ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 42 (D36455).

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 View through an Arch to the Cascade
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
27.4 × 21 cm, 10 ¾ × 8 ¼ in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in

'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; Waterfall Scenery

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 '"Tivoli"' by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as 'Tivoli: A View Looking through an Arch to the Cascade' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view through an archway, probably part of the Ponte San Rocco, is one of six views of Tivoli 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

Tivoli: The Cascade and the Bridge of San Rocco

 As with many of the Monro School drawings 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 large 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 (see TG0575 figure 2), and there are others in another volume in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, that originally came from the same source (see TG0614 figure 1), all of which indicates that the artist undertook a substantial survey of the town and its pictorial attractions. This view provides something of a quandary, however, because although the structure shown in the Monro School view has much in common with numerous depictions of the Ponte San Rocco, the precarious bridge that offered access to the hill town before it collapsed in 1808, other aspects simply do not tally. Most notably, the bridge spanned a vertiginous rocky gorge and did not cross a flat road as here; moreover, the building flanking it is on the left side when looking through to the cascades, as a sketch by Cozens himself, discovered during the preparation of this online catalogue, illustrates (see figure 1). Accepting that the Monro School view does show the same structure, albeit in a distorted fashion, it is possible that Girtin simply misread his source, which was presumably a slight outline, in the process turning a bridge into an archway, and that he also reversed the sense of the structure by copying a tracing from the wrong side. Equally, of course, it is also possible that Girtin allowed himself a certain amount of freedom to adapt his source and that he felt the changes made for a more coherent composition.

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 readily apparent under Turner’s economical use of a simple palette of greys and blues.

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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