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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

A Barn and Sheds

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0922: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Barn and Sheds, 1795–96, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original mount, 12.7 × 19.5 cm, 5 × 7 ⅝ in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1953P232).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Barn and Sheds
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original mount
12.7 × 19.5 cm, 5 × 7 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
14.1 × 20.8 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ⅛ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
174 as by Thomas Girtin; '1796'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and April 2024


Herbert Horne (1864–1916); bought from him by Sir Edward Marsh (1872–1953), May 1904 (lent to London, 1916); (stock no.9712), 3 May 1920; bought from him by Thos. Agnews & Sons (stock no.9712), 3 May 1920; bought by Arthur Lees Evans (c.1872–1935), 21 March 1922, £43; Christie's, 6 December 1935, lot 12; bought by 'Squire', £26 5s; the Squire Gallery, London; Fine Art Society, London, 1935-6; James Leslie Wright (1862–1954) (lent to Birmingham, 1939); presented to the Museum, 1953

Exhibition History

London, 1916, no.109; Birmingham, 1939, no.197; London, 1949, no.217 as ’The Old Barn’; Amsterdam, 1965, no.63


Rose, 1980, p.57 as 'Attributed to Thomas Girtin'

About this Work

The attribution of this watercolour has been questioned in the most recent catalogue of the collection of Girtin’s drawings at Birmingham City Art Gallery (Rose, 1980, p.57). However, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak included it in their catalogue of Girtin’s works, dating it to around 1796, and though it is not of the highest quality, on balance, I am inclined to accept the attribution. Part of the difficulty with establishing the authorship of the work lies in the continuing uncertainty about its precise status. It is clear that the sketch is not an on-the-spot colour study and it is unlikely that it will be possible to identify the precise location of a picturesque group of agricultural buildings that might equally be the product of the artist’s imagination. Indeed, other rural scenes dating from about the same period, also measuring roughly 12 × 20 cm (4 ¾ × 7 ⅞ in), such as A Cow Grazing near a Pond (TG0178), suggest that Girtin copied the composition of A Barn and Sheds from another source and that it is a studio work made to appear like an on-the-spot colour sketch. Beginning around 1796, Girtin pioneered a new commodity that was aimed at the market for artists’ sketches. The majority, such as Bothal Castle, from the River Wansbeck (TG1089), were based on topographical views taken on the spot, but other, more generic rural scenes were based on the sketches of artists such as Edward Dayes (1763–1804) and, in particular, Thomas Hearne (1744–1817). They seem to have stemmed from Girtin’s work at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where he made a series of pencil copies that were worked up into small sketch-like watercolours, as with A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance (TG0376 and TG0377). Nothing is known about the early provenance of this work, but it is possible that it was once part of Monro’s collection.

1795 - 1796

A Cow Grazing near a Pond, with a Church Tower Beyond


1796 - 1797

Bothal Castle, from the River Wansbeck


1794 - 1795

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


1795 - 1796

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


by Greg Smith

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