Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 52. Lake Nemi, Italy .

Joseph Mallord William Turner, RA and Thomas Girtin

Lake Nemi, Italy

Auction Closed

July 3, 10:51 AM GMT


8,000 - 12,000 GBP

Lot Details


Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. and Thomas Girtin

(London 1775 - 1851 & London 1775 - 1802)

Lake Nemi

Watercolour and pencil

152 by 189 mm

Possibly Dr Thomas Monro (1759-1833),

possibly his executor’s sale, London, Christie's, 2 July 1833, lot 137 (as by J.M.W. Turner, part of lot), bt. 'Shirley', £14.14s;

W. Angell [?] of Oxford Garden, London;

with Leggatt Brothers, London (as by J.M.W. Turner);

Gilbert Woollard Hattersley (1854-1916);

by family descent to the present owner 

This watercolour depicts one of the most iconic landscapes of the Roman Campagna: Lake Nemi. We look south-west, past the ancient village of Nemi itself, past a group of cypress trees to its left and down to the cool waters of the lake itself. Beyond, the village of Genzano and the Mediterranean seem to float evocatively on the horizon.


The drawing dates to circa 1794 and was almost certainly painted at 8 Adelphi Terrace, the London home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759-1833), a leading physician who was also an enthusiastic amateur artist. During the winter evenings of the middle 1790s (1794-1797), Monro famously opened his doors to up and coming artists, giving them supper, providing them with a place to meet and socialize as well as permitting them to make copies from his extensive collections. Artists would work by candlelight at double-sided drawing desks and by December 1794 the Royal Academician and diarist Joseph Farington, R.A. (1747-1821) described the house as being ‘like an Academy’. Amongst the regular attendees were Turner and Girtin. Direct contemporaries and friends they, according to Farington, would often work together, with Girtin drawing in ‘the outlines’ and Turner ‘washing in the effects.’ The present work almost certainly derives from a drawing by John Robert Cozens (1752-1797) held within Monro’s collection’1


It appears possible to trace the provenance of this watercolour back to Dr Thomas Monro’s executor’s sale (see Provenance). A later owner was Gilbert Woollard Hattersley, the great-great uncle of the present owner. He ran ‘Hattersley Brothers’, a successful grocery business in Trinity Street, Cambridge and he lived at Camden House, Park Terrace in that city. A patron of the arts, Hattersely was particular friends with the painter and illustrator Charles Edmond Brocks (1870-1938). Until this sale, the present work was unknown to scholars and its re-emergence is significant.


  1. C.F. Bell and T. Girtin record seven watercolours by Cozens of Nemi from this viewpoint in their article: ‘The Drawings and Sketches of John Robert Cozens', Walpole Society, Oxford 1935, p. 44, no. 140 i-vii. Furthermore, Greg Smith has pointed out that lot 32 in Dr Monro’s executor's sale at Christie’s on the 2 July 1833 was a view of Lake Nemi by Cozens.