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

Tivoli: The Gran Loggia of the Villa d'Este

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0597: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) after John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Tivoli: The Gran Loggia of the Villa d'Este, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount, 24.5 × 18.9 cm, 9 ⅝ × 7 ⅜ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIII, 44 (D36457).

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: The Gran Loggia of the Villa d'Este
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an early mount
24.5 × 18.9 cm, 9 ⅝ × 7 ⅜ in
Mount Dimensions
36.3 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in

‘at 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 '"At Tivoli"' by Thomas Girtin; Wilton, 1984a, p.18; Turner Online as 'Tivoli: A Loggia of the Palazzo d'Este' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the Gran Loggia of the Villa d’Este 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 Loggia of the Villa D'Este at Tivoli

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 view of the impressive loggia and belvedere, known as the Cenacolo, which was designed by Pirro Ligorio (c.1512–83) in 1568–69 in the form of a triumphal arch. But, as was generally the case, 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 outlines 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), the monumental building known as the Villa of Maecenas (see TG0592 figure 2) and the famous cascades of the river Aniene (see TG0578 figure 1), and it was from just such an outline that Girtin probably produced his pencil drawing for Turner to add washes of colour. Cozens also produced a watercolour of the Gran Loggia (see figure 1), depicted from the opposite direction but showing an equally unconventional view from below and outside the gardens, which is in keeping with his determination both to seek out less familiar aspects of Tivoli and, perhaps as significantly, to create a more picturesque setting for the classical structure of the villa. The triumphal arch was built at the head of a two-hundred-metre-long terrace in front of the palace to create an eye-catching highlight of the magnificent formal gardens. The Monro School drawing and the Cozens watercolour are equally equipped to deflate the grandiose effect so that the symmetrical structure is displaced within an almost rustic setting.

The album of drawings that includes the set of Tivoli scenes 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 economical use of a simple monochrome palette leaves 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 particularly apparent on the structure of the loggia. Indeed, although in general I am more than happy to follow Wilton’s dual attribution of the Monro School drawings, in this case I believe that the foreground is more typical of Girtin’s work around 1797, and it may be that Turner was not involved in the production of the drawing at all. The way in which a darker tone of grey is added to a very liquid ground, often with the tip of the brush, to create a series of semi-abstract patterns, is more characteristic of Girtin. Making pencil outlines of landscape subjects presumably took less time than colouring them, so that if Girtin’s attendance at Monro’s house matched Turner’s in terms of time, he would have had a number of opportunities to contribute to the process of enhancing his own outlines.

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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