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Works (?) Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0166: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804), A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral, 1792–93, watercolour on paper, 31.1 × 44.8 cm, 12 ¼ × 17 ⅝ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
31.1 × 44.8 cm, 12 ¼ × 17 ⅝ in

Signed on the back in graphite

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; The Welsh Borders: Herefordshire and Worcestershire

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
51 as 'Hereford Cathedral and Town From a Distance'; '1793'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Walker's Galleries, London, 1921, £175; Sidney Lovell Phipson (1851–1929); his sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 15 November 1923, lot 75; American Art Association, 21 November 1934, lot 97; Nelson C. White (1900–89) (lent to New Haven, 1950)

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1921, no.59; New Haven, 1950, no.17

About this Work

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak thought that this distant view of Hereford Cathedral from the north west was produced by Girtin, ‘probably after’ a drawing by Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and they dated it to 1793, just after the termination of his apprenticeship (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.141). Dayes visited the area in 1792 and there are two Hereford subjects by Girtin that appear to be after his master: a dated view from 1793, Hereford Cathedral, from the River Wye (TG0155) and a distant view of the cathedral in a landscape setting (TG0070). In contrast to those works, there are a number of concerns about the attribution of this view of the cathedral surrounded by the town of Hereford, not least because the work has not been seen in public for many generations. For instance, it has not been possible to check either the signature on the reverse of the drawing or the statement in the sale catalogue that it was sold as a pair with The River Thames at Putney (TG0164) (Exhibitions: Anderson Galleries, New York, 15 November 1923). The latter point is particularly concerning as the Putney watercolour is almost certainly by Dayes himself and so the reason that it has not been possible to trace the source of A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral may simply be because this work was by Girtin’s master. However, on balance, the stylistic evidence, as far as can be determined from an old photograph, points to an early work by Girtin. Features such as the very fluid sky, the schematic rendering of the foreground foliage with its darkened masses, and the simplified band of architecture in the middle ground (in which the brightly lit buildings are arranged parallel to the picture plane) are all typical of the apprentice Girtin’s appropriation of Dayes’ mannerisms at this date. It is also possible that Girtin used a secondary source just for the view of the city and that, as with similar views of Eton College (such as TG0013), he invented the bucolic foreground with trees that conveniently frame the architectural subject.

A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral was one of eight watercolours sold at Walker’s Galleries in London in 1921 that were said to have been commissioned from the young Girtin and subsequently remained in the same family collection for several generations (Exhibitions: Walker’s Galleries, 1921). The group includes views of Warwick Castle (TG0168), Chepstow Castle (TG0170), Lindisfarne Priory (TG0210), Warkworth Castle (TG0177) and Vale Crucis Abbey (TG0208), none of which Girtin could have visited by this date. They all seem to have been made after compositions by Dayes or James Moore (1762–99), Girtin’s first significant patron. It is likely that the commission as a whole came through Girtin’s continuing association with Dayes, though he clearly did not consign the watercolours to the auction houses, as seems to have been the case with Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057) and others. The income from the works may still have gone to Girtin’s master as part of the price of paying off his indentures, however, and this would explain why Girtin still had access to Dayes’ sketches after he left his studio, whenever that might have been.


Hereford Cathedral, from the River Wye


1792 - 1793

Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The River Thames at Putney



Eton College, from the River


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1792 - 1793

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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