1 January 1858

Notes by Joseph John Jenkins (1811–85) on a meeting with Cornelius Varley (1782–1874) (Archives of the Royal Watercolour Society (J61/2))

Called on Cornelius Varley to see two pictures which he has just painted - got him to tell me about Dr Monro at whose house the young artists drew of an evening in Adelphi Terrace - spoke of the Dr as being a man of good taste a sketcher himself and an enthusiastic lover of art several examples of which he selected - His house was filled with pictures and drawings - many Gainsboroughs hanging upon his walls, which he allowed to be freely copied by young artists and took delight in assisting them with his advice - so fond of works of art was he that he never liked to be without some of them in sight - and he contrived a netting inside the roof of his carriage in which he always slipped a folio of drawings when he went to his country house at Fetcham Surrey - constantly changing them on the way - and he also contrived to have his drawings so arranged that they could be readily carried out in case of fire - Couzens Turner and Girtin and afterwards J & C Varley Cotman Linnel Hunt and others - the Dr provided desks with a candle - and they sat on each side so that one candle did - J Varley made a number of Coloured sketches of the the neighbourhood of Fetcham for the Dr - some his earliest and best. C Varley told me that Girtin made a great number of outlines which the Dr got Turner to tint in grey just washed afterwards with colour of this Girtin complained as not giving him the same chance of painting.

Dr Monro learnt drawing of Laporte and was looked upon in his day much in same way as Sir George Beaumont and Payne Knight as a leader in Connoisseurship.

Monro - the Earl of Essex and Mr Lassels Prince Lassels as he was called from his likeness to the Prince of Wales - seem to have been the principal encouragers of drawings in water colours - Girtin was much with them - so was J Varley who made drawings for all of them

Girtin was a hard worker and caught cold by sitting out in the damp which hastened his death. This agrees with what Mr Girtin the son of the painter told me - 


Sometime in 1858 Hannah Cooper (unknown dates) noted down the details of her collection of watercolours mostly inherited from her uncle Charles Stokes (1785–1853) in 1853. In addition to the highly significant group of works by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) she also noted:


Tattershall Castle (TG1030)



Cottages on a Bank

Old Barn

Landscape with bridge and river

Stags by Girtin & Howitt (?TG1373 and ?TG1374)

Do Do 

Amongst the works listed as by Turner are a number which may have been collaborations between Girtin and Turner including: ‘Boats at Dover’; ‘Walls of Rome’; and ‘View from Prince Doria’s Palace’.  The full records of Cooper’s collection have been transcribed by Martin Krause (Krause, 1997, pp.267–72).

A small portion of Cooper’s collection passed by descent to Alice Ellen Hughes (unknown dates) and her sale in 1922 included four pencil drawings, all then attributed to Turner but which can now be said with varying degrees of certainty to be by Girtin: TG0270; TG0298; TG0924; TG1037 (Exhibitions: Sotheby’s, 28 November 1922).

(?) 1799

Tattershall Castle, from the North East


1795 - 1796

Stags Fighting amongst a Herd of Deer in Windsor Great Park, with the Castle in the Distance


1795 - 1796

A Herd of Deer in Richmond Park


(?) 1795

Kelso Abbey, from the North West


(?) 1795

The Refectory, St Martin’s Priory, Dover


1796 - 1797

A Barn with a Figure, Cattle and Poultry


(?) 1796

St Albans Abbey, from the East