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Works Thomas Girtin

A Crag on the River Nidd (page 31 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1611: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Crag on the River Nidd, (?) 1800, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1977.15.30).

Photo courtesy of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Photo by Michael Pollard (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Crag on the River Nidd (page 31 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in

‘river nid’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Replica by Girtin
Subject Terms
River Scenery; Yorkshire View

A Crag on the River Nidd (TG1510)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
370ii as 'Grimbald Crag'; '1800 or 1801'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and May 2022


Sale at Platt Vicarage, Rusholme, Manchester, 1898; sketchbook bought by 'Shepherd'; then by descent to F. W. Shepherd; his sale, Sotheby’s, 7 July 1977, lot 46; bought by Baskett and Day; bought by the Gallery, 1977


Hardie, 1938–39, no.12, p.93; NACF, Report, 1977, p.119; Hill, 1999, p.44

About this Work

This view of a crag on the river Nidd, near Knaresborough in Yorkshire, has been identified by David Hill as showing a scene between the Abbey Mill and Grimbald Bridge (possibly a site known as St Robert’s Cave), both of which Girtin depicted in pencil sketches that are also in the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1604 and TG1607) (Hill, 1999, p.44). Many of the drawings in the book were made on the spot in 1800, but at least four were copied from earlier drawings, including this view on the river Nidd on page thirty-one and another of Grimbald Bridge (TG1509). This, like the copy of Grimbald Bridge, replicates a smaller sketch measuring 11.2 × 16.7 cm (4 ⅜ × 6 ⅝ in) (TG1510), so that unlike the view of Middleham (TG1508), one of the replicas in the Book of Drawings that was actually traced from its source, this drawing must have been copied freehand. Even so, differences are difficult to detect, and, initially at least, it is hard to appreciate what Girtin was up to in producing what Hill described as a ‘remarkably close variant’. However, I suspect that the answer stems from the ready market for Girtin’s sketches, both in pencil and in colours, that the artist succeeded in building up over the years. The likeliest scenario is that, as in the case of the Middleham sketch, Girtin found a purchaser for his on-the-spot drawing of the river Nidd scene and that, prior to parting with it, he produced a replica, either in the Book of Drawings or on a piece of paper that was later bound into it. This could then be shown to potential clients and used as the basis for a watercolour commission, though equally it too might find a purchaser, who would have had no reason to think that the replica was not sketched on the spot. The colouring in this copy is actually more convincing than the original, which is so slapdash as to suggest that it might even have been added by another hand. It is ironic that the finer version of the sketch did not find a purchaser, being one of only two of the dozen or so colour sketches originally part of the Book of Drawings that were not removed from the volume.

(?) 1800

Grimbald Bridge, near Knaresborough


(?) 1800

The Abbey Mill, near Knaresborough


1799 - 1800

Grimbald Bridge, near Knaresborough


1799 - 1800

A Crag on the River Nidd



Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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