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Works Thomas Girtin after Marco Ricci

A Classical Composition, with a Church and Column

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG0883: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Marco Ricci (1676–1730), A Classical Composition, with a Church and Column, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 32.1 × 47.9 cm, 12 ⅝ × 18 ⅞ in. Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool (WAG 8176).

Photo courtesy of Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: Davide Fossati (1708–95), after Marco Ricci (1676–1730), etching, Classical Composition with a Church for 24 Landscapes after Marco Ricci, pl.13, 1743, 25 × 36 cm, 9 ⅞ × 14 ⅛ in. British Museum, London (1917,1208.35.14).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Marco Ricci (1676-1730)
  • A Classical Composition, with a Church and Column
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
32.1 × 48.2 cm, 12 ⅝ × 19 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Foreign Master
Subject Terms
Classical Buildings: Imaginary

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
309 as 'Classical Composition'; '1798–9'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in December 2023


Possibly bought by Peter Bluett (1767–1843) of Holcombe Court, Devon; then by descent to Peter Frederick Bluett (1806–84); Holcombe Court bought by the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), 1858; his collection by descent to Revd George Morganig William Thomas Jenkins (1879–1952); acquired by Gooden & Fox Ltd., 1936; Fine Art Society, London; Guy Daniel Harvey-Samuel (1887–1960); Cecil Francis Joseph Beausire (1898–1972), acquired 1916; bequeathed to the Gallery, 1972

Exhibition History

Fine Art Society, 1937, no.13; Liverpool, 1970, no.17


National Museums Liverpool, Collections Online as 'Classical Landscape' (Accessed 14/09/2022)

About this Work

This is one of six watercolours that were painted by Girtin from etchings made after the architectural views of the Italian artist Marco Ricci (1676–1730) (see the source image above). The etchings were executed by Davide Fossati (1708–95) and published in Venice in 1743 as 24 Landscapes after Marco Ricci. The Venetian artist enjoyed considerable popularity in England following his two stays (1708–11 and 1712–16), and his Vedute – imaginary architectural views combining ruined buildings and sculptures in a generic classical, Italianate style – found a ready market, first as bodycolours and then as etchings published by Fossati and others after his death. In this example, Girtin followed Ricci’s composition particularly closely, including all of the figures, only excluding the tree to the right to remove a distracting feature.

All six of the copies after Ricci’s compositions were executed on similar laid paper, each measuring roughly 32 × 48 cm (12 ½ × 19 in) – that is, larger than the originals – and it is therefore tempting to characterise them in the same terms as the set of watercolours that Girtin produced after the compositions of Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820) (such as TG0888). However, although the Ricci copies are also based on prints, there is no evidence that they were produced on commission for a patron such as John Henderson (1764–1843). Indeed, appearing to date from later on stylistic grounds, say around 1800–1801, the watercolours were probably made for sale on the open market, where this example and another, An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings (TG0880), were bought by an early collector of Girtin’s work, either Peter Bluett (1767–1863) of Holcombe Court in Devon or a relative of a later owner of the property, the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866). The fact that the works were not acquired directly from the artist by a patron who had a say in their production is, I suggest, of some importance, as it significantly increases the possibility that Girtin bought the Fossati prints himself, just as he was to do with a group of French architectural views published in twelve volumes as Voyage Pittoresque de la France (La Borde and others, 1781–1800). Moreover, he did so with the intention of making saleable commodities, and there is certainly no question of his having produced the copies for his own study. Precise dating is difficult, but the opportunity to finally view the work has confirmed my initial thoughts the very free and bold use of use of blocks of colour recall the effect of later print copies such as Lyons Cathedral (TG1907) from around 1802. Though not presumably from Girtin’s last year, the Ricci-inspired watercolours nonetheless feel later than the 1798–99 proposed by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.176) and although we have nothing other than the stylistic evidence to go on a date for the six Fossati copies of around 1800–01 appears reasonable.

1799 - 1800

Rome: The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina


1800 - 1801

An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings


(?) 1802

Lyon Cathedral


by Greg Smith

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