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

Verona: The Church of San Giorgio in Braida on the River Adige

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0683: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752–97), Verona: The Church of San Giorgio in Braida on the River Adige, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 15.9 × 22.2 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Guy Peppiatt Fine Art Ltd. (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) John Robert Cozens (1752-1797)
  • Verona: The Church of San Giorgio in Braida on the River Adige
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
15.9 × 22.2 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
Italian View: The North; River Scenery; The View from Above

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2011


Leicester Galleries, London; ... Bonhams, 21 June 1989, lot 54 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Christie's, 7 November 1995, lot 18 as 'Verona' by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, unsold; Christie’s, 9 July 1996, lot 39 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, £4,830; private collection, Suffolk; Guy Peppiatt Fine Art, 2011

Exhibition History

Guy Peppiatt, London, 2011, no.21 as ’The Church of San Giorgio on the River Adige, Verona’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of the church of San Giorgio in Braida, on the river Adige in Verona, 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’, 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

As with many of the Italian views completed at Monro’s home, it has not been possible to trace the source of this image of the sixteenth-century church viewed from Castel San Pietro. In general, Girtin and Turner worked from compositions by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) and, more specifically, from sketches and tracings that he made during or after his two Italian visits, in 1776–79 and 1782–83. The auction of the artist’s work held in July 1794 contained twenty-seven ‘books of sketches’ and many hundreds of drawings made on his travels, and, as Kim Sloan has argued, given that Monro’s posthumous sale included only a few sketches by Cozens, the patron must have borrowed the bulk of the material from which Girtin and Turner worked (Sloan and Joyner, 1993, pp.81–82).2 In this case, the Cozens sketch either has not survived or has not been recognised as his work, though the date on which it was made is reasonably clear. The artist is known to have painted a watercolour titled 'View on the River Adige, near Verona’ for William Beckford (1760–1844) (sold at Christie's, 10 April 1805, lot 5), and given that he also sketched another view in the city in June 1782 (Bell and Girtin, 1935, no.210), the source for this Monro School work presumably dates from that trip. The view of the north bank of the Adige includes the twelfth-century bell tower of the old monastery and a much exaggerated hill to the right, which has been brought closer to the buildings than in reality. Whether this was a feature of the original sketch by Cozens, or was introduced by the Monro School artists to make a more dramatic composition, cannot be established.

The bulk of the works sold at Monro’s posthumous sale in 1833 were attributed to Turner alone, and, despite the pioneering article published by Andrew Wilton in 1984 that established the joint authorship of many of the Monro School copies, this work was still listed as by Turner in 2011 when it appeared on the art market (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23). This is not entirely surprising given that the watercolour has been quite heavily worked by Turner with a full palette of colours, which has effaced much of Girtin’s pencil work. Arguably, just enough of the artist’s characteristic inventive touches are still apparent, particularly in the buildings and their reflections, to point to Girtin’s involvement in the work’s production.

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).
  2. 2 A full record of the sale is available in the Documents section of the Archive (1794 – Item 1)

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