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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

A Farm with an Unidentified Windmill

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG1417: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Farm with an Unidentified Windmill, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on paper, 18 × 19.5 cm, 7 ⅛ × 7 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F05200-0119 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Farm with an Unidentified Windmill
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
18 × 19.5 cm, 7 ⅛ × 7 ¾ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Essex View; Picturesque Vernacular; Wind and Water Mills

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


The Red Cross sale, Christie's, unknown date, lot 31; ... A. M. Mason; his sale, Sotheby's, 15 July 1976, lot 74 as 'The Mill' by Joseph Mallord William Turner, £1,700

About this Work

This view of a mill and farm buildings is known only from a black and white photograph taken when the watercolour was last seen in public, on the occasion that it appeared at auction in 1976 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). The attribution certainly made sense, since the work depicts the same group of buildings seen in another watercolour by Turner that appeared on the art market in 2013 (see figure 1) and that appears to be an autograph work by the artist from about 1794. However, the slightly smaller view under consideration here differs considerably in its details from Turner’s watercolour, though, in turn, it accords with another view of the same farm and mill that is titled ‘Landscape, Possibly Blackwater Estuary’, presumably referring to the site in Essex (see figure 2). This has hitherto only been known from a poor-quality black and white image in the Witt Library where the watercolour was attributed to Girtin. This more recent colour image, made when the drawing was with the Martyn Gregory Gallery, came with an attribution to Turner, but it is sadly not good enough to confirm the merits of the change of attribution from Girtin. Working from two poor images, it is therefore not possible to say any more at this stage than that at least one of the mill compositions might be by Girtin and that, if the building was located on the Blackwater Estuary, the artist would have had to work from a sketch by someone else. This likewise goes for Turner, who is not known to have visited the area either. The composition bears a striking similarity to another picturesque mill scene, A Riverside Cottage (TG1435) that was based on a print after a watercolour by Thomas Hearne (1744–1817) and I suspect that a secondary source might yet be found for this drawing too, though that would not necessarily help with its attribution.

1795 - 1796

A Riverside Cottage, Said to Be a Watermill


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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