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Works Thomas Girtin

A Cottage, Said to Be near Battle in Sussex

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0201: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Cottage, Said to Be near Battle in Sussex, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 12.8 × 19.1 cm, 5 × 7 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Cottage, Said to Be near Battle in Sussex
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
12.8 × 19.1 cm, 5 × 7 ½ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


Joseph Mayer (1803–86); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 23 July 1887, lot 489 as 'Cottage near Battle'; bought by 'Hibbert', £3 19s; then by descent to A. Hibbert; Nelly Nussbaumer; her sale, Sotheby's, 15 July 1964, lot 41; bought by the Fine Art Society, London, £480; Sir Humphrey Waldock; then by descent; Bonhams, 27 April 2016, lot 257, £8,125

Exhibition History

Fine Art Society, 1965, no.10; long term loan to Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, New York, 1983-85

About this Work

From the mid-1790s, Girtin added views of picturesque cottages and farms to his stock of antiquarian subjects, culminating in the exhibition of a ‘Cottage, from nature’ at the Royal Academy in 1798 (Exhibitions: Royal Academy, London, 1798, no.575). It is not known whether this cottage scene, dating from a little earlier, was based on a sketch made on the spot, rather than being a picturesque composition, but its traditional title, ‘Cottage near Battle’, suggests that it was the former. Girtin is not now thought to have visited Sussex in 1795, but his first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99) certainly did, and he made a number of sketches at Battle, at least one of which Girtin worked up as a watercolour (TG0268). This work does not seem to have come from Moore’s collection, but Girtin’s patron was certainly interested enough in the vernacular architecture of the area to sketch a number of picturesque half-timbered buildings in Sussex (such as TG0248), and it is possible that Girtin used one of these as the basis for his watercolour. It is impossible to know whether the traditional title of the work is correct, however, and it is just as likely that Girtin sketched the humble dwelling on his travels elsewhere in the country. Certainly, the unconventional composition, with the building brought close to the viewer and cut arbitrarily to the left, suggests a more idiosyncratic version of the picturesque than was common for Moore. On balance I suspect that the watercolour was based on a sketch of a cottage ‘from nature’, though, as with the later Academy exhibit, it is was almost certainly painted entirely in the studio.

(?) 1795

The Gatehouse, Battle Abbey


1793 - 1794

An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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