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Works Thomas Girtin

A Farm beyond a Field

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1797: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Farm beyond a Field, 1801–02, watercolour on wove paper, 11.6 × 16.9 cm, 4 ⁹⁄₁₆ × 6 ⅝ in. British Museum, London (1855,0214.64).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Farm beyond a Field
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Watercolour on wove paper
11.6 × 16.9 cm, 4 ⁹⁄₁₆ × 6 ⅝ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; Rural Labour

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
422 as '1800–1'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Chambers Hall (1786–1855); presented to the Museum, 1855


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.23a

About this Work

This rather faded watercolour study, showing a farm and associated barns beyond a field, is related to a group of sketches of rural buildings that Girtin made in the studio towards the end of his life, such as A Barn by a Road (TG1793), though it is slightly larger in scale. The group of fifteen drawings appear to have come from one of the ‘little Books’ that were split up for sale after his death by his brother, John Girtin (1773–1821). Given that this work shares the same provenance, also coming from the collection of Chambers Hall (1786–1855), it too could date from the end of the artist’s life. It is unlikely that the drawing also comes from a book, not sharing its dimensions with any other sketch, but it employs a similar palette, and the subject too is closely related to a number of examples in the group at the British Museum. Some of these are clearly imaginary, but others, as here, resemble the picturesque vernacular subjects gathered by Girtin in Essex three or four years earlier (such as TG1757). The latter point has led me to conclude that, although they were evidently created at speed, studies such as this were not coloured on the spot and were painted instead in the studio to satisfy the market for the less formal aspects of the artist’s output. Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak dated the drawing to a little earlier (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.191). However, though it does not employ the same prominent pencil hatching that is seen in the group of fifteen, which they thought were made in 1802, the colouring is so close to a number of other watercolours, such as A Barn by a Road, as to suggest that it was worked on at the same time, possibly with the artist moving from one sheet to another, adding a single tone to each in turn. That said, it must be admitted that dating any of Girtin’s sketches for which there is no clearly identified subject inevitably involves an element of guesswork, and there are times when one longs for the sort of specific inscriptions that are part of the sketching practice of so many of Girtin’s contemporaries.

Leonard Gordon Duke (1889–1971) noted that a similar watercolour, probably of the same subject and forming a pair with this work, was once in his collection. He bought the drawing from the Squire Gallery, London, in 1937 and exchanged it with them in 1948. The drawing reappeared at an auction in September 2022 and is now included in this catalogue as TG1804.

(?) 1802

A Barn by a Road


1800 - 1801

A Farmyard with Cattle, Poultry and Labourers Unloading Hay, Possibly Pinckney’s Farm, Radwinter


(?) 1800


by Greg Smith

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