• The West Front of Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire -

    inscribed in another hand on reverse of original backing: Litchfield Cathedral./T. Girtin delin.t

    pencil on laid paper

    34.3 by 27.1cm,13 1/2 by 10 1/2 inches


    This recently rediscovered drawing dates from Girtin?s 1794 tour of the Midlands with the antiquarian James Moore. From 1793 Moore had employed Girtin to produce copies in watercolour of his own pencil sketches and this tour was their first journey together. They visited Warwick, Stratford, Lichfield, Peterborough and Lincoln and it resulted in a number of further commissions for Girtin from Moore. The viewpoint was presumably chosen by Moore and its advantage is that the three spires of the cathedral are visible.


    The watercolour which Moore commissioned from this drawing is in the Yale Center for British Art and another version is now in the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester (see Greg Smith, Thomas Girtin: The Art of Watercolour, exhibition catalogue, 2002, p.60, no.38, ill.). A similar pencil drawing of the west front of Peterborough Cathedral also dating from the 1794 tour is in the Yale Center for British Art (Greg Smith, op.cit., p.97, no.70, ill.) and one of Lincoln Cathedral was sold at Sotheby?s on 24th November 2005, lot 124.


    This is likely to be the ?sketch of Lichfield Cathedral? which belonged to the artist and Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, William Alexander (1767-1816) (see Thomas Girtin and David Loshak, The Art of Thomas Girtin, 1954, p.146, under no.88)



    Probably William Alexander, his sale, Christie?s, 12th March 1817, lot 1199 - ?Sketch of Lichfield Cathedral by T. Girtin?

  • View of Windermere and Belle Isle -

    With a collector?s mark lower left and inscribed in another hand verso: Windermere Lake/Girtin

    Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil

    35.3 by 48.7 cm., 13 ? by 19 inches



    With Walker?s Galleries, London;

    With Thos. Agnew and Sons, London (no.32063);

    L.G. Duke (D3816);

    Anonymous sale, Sotheby?s, 5th March 1970, lot 83;

    Theodore Besterman, his sale, Christie?s, 14th December 1971, lot 52;

    Anonymous sale, Christie?s, 8th June 2000, lot 141;

    By descent to the present owner


    This rare early work by Girtin dates from circa 1792, when he was under the tuition of Edward Dayes (1763-1804). It is likely to be a copy of a watercolour by Dayes or John ?Warwick? Smith as Girtin never visited the Lake District. Girtin was apprenticed to Dayes from 1789 and as a young artist he would have been expected to copy his master?s work as part of the learning process. Dayes is known to have visited the Lakes in 1789 and he exhibited a number of Lakeland subjects in the following few years.  Views of Windermere by Dayes from different angles are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Aberdeen Art Gallery. Two comparable views by Girtin from this period, of almost identical size, are in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (see Greg Smith, Thomas Girtin: The Art of Watercolour, 2002, nos. 21 and 22, ill.).


    We are grateful to Susan Morris for her help in cataloguing this watercolour


  • Ruins of the Savoy Palace, London -

    Signed on reverse of old backing: Savoy Prison/T Girtin

    Watercolour over traces of pencil

    21.1 by 28.8 cm., 8 ? by 11 ? inches



    Sir Hickman Bacon, Bart.;

    With Thos. Agnew and Sons, Manchester;

    Private Collection, Netherlands



    T. Girtin and D. Loshak, The Art of Thomas Girtin, 1954, no. 134, ii


    This shows the ruins of the old Savoy Palace on the site of what is now the Savoy Hotel. Beyond is a view of the Thames and Westminster Bridge. It dates from 1795-96 and is one of a group of views of the ruins which Girtin drew as a young man no doubt attracted by their picturesque character. Another view of the ruins is in the Ashmolean Museum (see Greg Smith, Thomas Girtin: The Art of Watercolour, 2002, no.67, p.92) and a pencil drawing is in the Yale Center for British Art. Girtin and Loshak (op. cit.) note that Turner also drew the same view but without the dog (with the Palser Gallery, circa 1920) which suggests that both drawings were executed at the same time. Turner was brought up in Covent Garden so would have known the ruins well.


    Originally destroyed by a mob during the Peasant?s Revolt of 1381, John of Gaunt?s Savoy Palace was converted into a hospital for the poor by Henry VII in 1512.  Although it was the first in the country to have permanent medical staff, the hospital closed in 1702 and the buildings fell into ruin.  The remains were swept away during the building of Waterloo Bridge in the early 19th century.   The only structure left today is the Savoy Chapel, off the Strand which was a side chapel of the hospital that once hosted a German Lutheran congregation. 

  • Dartford High Street, Kent  -

    Inscribed on reverse of wash mount: by Turner/View of the Street at Dartford Kent

    Pen and grey ink and watercolour over pencil on laid paper

    42.8 by 55cm., 16 ĺ by 21 Ĺ inches



    Basil Dighton of Savile Row, London, 1923;

    Private Collection, USA



    Supplement to `Country Lifeí, 6th October 1923, ill.


    This important, recently rediscovered, drawing is based on a sketch by John Henderson dated 26th July 1794 which is in the British Museum (1878, 1228.167) and dates from circa 1795. John Henderson (1764-1843) was a collector and amateur artist and an early patron of both Girtin and Turner. He often commissioned both artists to copy his own work. Henderson is recorded as being in Kent in the summer of 1794. An etching of boats at Dover was published on 28th August 1794 with a copy being in the British Museum.


    Also in the British Museum is an initial copy of Hendersonís drawing, by Girtin, in pen and ink (see Thomas Girtin and David Loshak, The Art of Thomas Girtin, 1954, no. 113) which was given to the museum by John Henderson Junior. This copy, which may have been traced, was used as the basis for the present drawing. Hendersonís original drawing does not include any figures which are Girtinís invention.


    Hendersonís original and either the present drawing or Girtinís pen and ink copy were known to Turnerís biographer Walter Thornbury who wrote: `There is, for instance, a view of the chief street at Dartford (1794), copied by Mr Girtin after an existing sketch by Mr Henderson; executed, I suppose, as a sort of drawing lessoní (see Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner RA, 1862, p. 98). The present drawing has an inscription on the reverse of the mount attributing it to Turner which is clearly incorrect.


    We are grateful to Susan Morris for confirming the attribution to Girtin.

  • Primrose Hill, London -

    Inscribed verso: Primrose Hill coloured on the spot by/Girtin

    watercolour over pencil on oatmeal paper

    19.7 by 48.7 cm., 7 ĺ by 19 in.



    With Colnaghi, London, 1947;

    Ray Livingston Murphy, New York, by 1950, his sale, Christieís, 19th November 1985, lot 35;

    Private Collection, London, until 2014



    T. Girtin and D. Loshak, The Art of Thomas Girtin, 1954, no. 416, p. 191



    New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, Prospects, 1950, no. 18, pl. 9b


    This is dateable to circa 1800, the year in which Girtin married Mary Ann Borrett and was living in his father-in-lawís house at 11 Scottís Place, Islington. Primrose Hill was a rather neglected, undeveloped area owned by Eton College until it became Crown Property in 1842 and became an area for leisure and recreation.

  • Horse and Pigs in a Landscape, Windsor -

    Indistinctly inscribed and signed lower right: Windsor/Gi..

    Watercolour over pencil

    192 x 139 mm., 7 Ĺ x 5 Ĺ in.



    Major-General Arthur K. Hay DSO, OBE

    By descent to his son, Joseph B. Hay until 2017  


    One of Girtinís earliest recorded work was a view of Windsor Castle, which was engraved in 1792 for John Walkerís Copper Plate Magazine, two years before he first exhibited at the Royal Academy. This drawing dates to 1793-94. We are grateful to Greg Smith for his help in cataloguing this drawing.

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