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

Tivoli: The View from the Gardens of the Villa d'Este, Looking towards Montecelio

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0595: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Tivoli: The View from the Gardens of the Villa d'Este, Looking towards Montecelio, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 28.1 × 42.5 cm, 11 ⅛ × 16 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXV, 19 (D36540).

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 View from the Gardens of the Villa d'Este, Looking towards Montecelio
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
28.1 × 42.5 cm, 11 ⅛ × 16 ¾ in

‘Villa d’Este’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

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

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2017


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235 as '"Villa d'Este"' by Thomas Girtin; Turner Online as 'View from the Villa d'Este at Tivoli towards Monte Celio' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin (Accessed 07/09/2022)

About this Work

This large watercolour showing the view from the gardens of the Villa d’Este at Tivoli displays many of the signs that mark the unique collaboration between Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Here they 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

A View near 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 looking north west from Tivoli towards the town of Montecelio. However, as was generally the case, it is likely to have been copied from a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) and, more specifically, one of the sketches or tracings that he made during or after his stay in Italy from November 1776 through to March 1779. Seven large tracings 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). Other large drawings in the album include views from Tivoli looking out over the surrounding countryside that are dated 1777 (see figure 1), and it was from something like this that the Monro School drawing was copied. In all, there may be as many as four Monro School work made from, or in, the sixteenth-century gardens of the Villa d’Este, including two views of the palace (TG0596 and TG0597).

This work was bought by Turner at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833, when the overwhelming majority of the Monro School copies were listed as being by Turner alone. The cataloguer of the Turner Bequest, Alexander Finberg, thought that Girtin was responsible for many of the watercolours, including this example; however, more recently, Andrew Wilton has established their joint authorship (Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1235; Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). Identifying the division of labour within Monro School drawings is considerably helped, as here, when Girtin’s inventive and fluent hand is clearly apparent, particularly in the buildings in the middle ground. Elsewhere, Turner’s simple palette of blues and greys is rather more developed than was often the case in the larger Monro School watercolours, but even here Girtin’s pencil work is frequently left visible, creating a more sketch-like effect rather than a ‘finished drawing’.

On a technical note, the paper historian Peter Bower has identified the support used here as a cream wove large post writing paper made by the Balston and Hollingworth Brothers Partnership at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent (Bower, Report).

1794 - 1797

Tivoli: The Villa d’Este, Looking South West


1794 - 1797

Tivoli: The Gran Loggia of the Villa d’Este


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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