Documents, Dated Watercolours and Early Accounts of the Artist
Anonymous [William Henry Pyne], ‘British School of Living Painters: No.2. J. M. W. Turner, R. A.’, Arnold’s Magazine of the Fine Arts, vol.1, no.4 (August 1833), pp.312–13 (Pyne, 1833)
About forty years ago, the late Doctor Munro, a first-rate amateur and connoisseur of the art, but more particularly of water colour drawings, generously permitted all young painters of talent the opportunity of studying his collection, i. e. by carefully copying from the best specimens in his possession, under his own immediate direction. Through this experienced and generous man, it may with grateful truth be recorded, that the youthful mind of Turner, nurtured and taught early to tread in the true path to greatness, laid the foundation of that power now realized in our times. Partaking with him in the advantages of such a noble act must be mentioned Girtin; and as might be anticipated from the conjunction of two such high born geniuses, an honourable emulation excited them, and both struggled for excellence and superiority; and even after each had marked out his own individual style, a spirit of honourable rivalry still existed between them. But the destiny of Girtin denied him the opportunity for prolonging the generous struggle beyond his twenty-seventh year.
The water-colour drawings of Turner and Girtin, which Doctor Munro possessed, were very remarkable for a strong resemblance to each other; and it is only after a severe search and scrutiny of both, that it becomes perceptible how to mark the difference. Turner’s are distinguished by an elaborate and careful detail of every object, whether of buildings, figures, trees, or distant scenery; yet combining altogether exquisite taste, breadth, harmony, and richness. Some of Girtin’s are almost as careful, but he seems to have soon launched out into that free and bold style which carries with it an imposing effect, by its being executed with apparent ease. Turner never seems to have aimed at this seductive style of execution; all his drawings display the utmost feeling for finish and detail, but at the same time preserving the breadth and harmony of nature.
23 November 1833
‘FINE ARTS. CONVERSAZIONE’, The Spectator, 23 November 1833, p.1204
Reporting on the City of London Artists’ and Amateurs’ Conversazione. ‘Here a splendid water-colour painting of TURNER contrasted with a sober tinted drawing of GIRTIN’.
23 November 1833
‘THE FINE ARTS’, The Sun, 23 November 1833
Reporting on the City of London Artists’ and Amateurs’ Conversazione it mentions the display of ‘some fine drawings by Turner R.A.; some very clever drawings of the old school of water colour painting, by Girtin.’