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Works Thomas Girtin

A Farmyard with Pigs Drinking at a Pond

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0923: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Farmyard with Pigs Drinking at a Pond, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 19.7 × 24 cm, 7 ¾ × 9 ½ in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Gilbert Davis Collection (59.55.598).

Photo courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Gilbert Davis Collection (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Farmyard with Pigs Drinking at a Pond
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
19.7 × 24 cm, 7 ¾ × 9 ½ in

‘Nacton Oct. 1800’ on the back, not in Thomas Girtin’s hand

Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work; Copy from an Unknown Source
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
176 as '"Nacton"'; 'c. 1796'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


P & D Colnaghi & Co., 1948; Gilbert Davis (1899–1983); bought from him by the Gallery, 1959

Exhibition History

Huntington, 1993, no catalogue


The Huntington Online as 'Nacton' (Accessed 14/09/2022)

About this Work

This partially coloured pencil sketch of a farmyard is inscribed by an unknown person ‘Nacton Oct. 1800’, and not surprisingly this has led to a number of misconceptions about it. For, as Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak pointed out, 1800 ‘cannot be considered as that of the execution of the drawing, which is of a much earlier date’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.158). From this it follows that Girtin could not have produced the work on the spot, as some commentators have argued; indeed, it is highly unlikely that he ever visited Suffolk. Additionally, aside from the inscription, there is no evidence that the farmyard was actually at Nacton, near Ipswich, and there is certainly no way that the location might be identified from the humble farm buildings shown in the image.

However, there is one scenario that could possibly explain the discrepancy between the inscription and the drawing itself. Thomas Hearne (1744–1817) did visit Nacton and at least one pencil drawing of a local subject by him is known (sold at Christie’s, 1 March 2011, lot 360), and it is not inconceivable, therefore, that Girtin’s drawing was copied from one of his sketches and that the inscription was added later to record the subject. This would presumably have taken place at the home of Girtin’s patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), who had an extensive collection of Hearne’s works, including seven ‘Landscapes in pencil, highly finished’ (Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 43) and a variety of sketches of ‘farm buildings’. Monro’s posthumous sale also included nine ‘Views, after Hearne’ by Girtin (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lots 109 and 113) as well as various items showing ‘farm buildings’. The evidence is not overwhelming, but, as was the case with another drawing probably from the Monro collection, A Village in a Wood (TG0236), Hearne’s influence on Girtin’s rural imagery seems to have been sparked by copies made for his patron around 1795–96.

One word of caution is necessary: whilst the pencil work is clearly by Girtin, the quality of the washes of grey, green and red is less than compelling. Is it possible that they were added at a later date by another, less competent hand?

1794 - 1795

A Village in a Wood


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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