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Works Thomas Girtin after Unknown Artist

A Grand Garden Terrace

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG0908: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after an Unknown Artist, A Grand Garden Terrace, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 34.9 × 21.9 cm, 13 ¾ × 8 ⅝ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (P.25-1928).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Unknown Artist
  • A Grand Garden Terrace
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
34.9 × 21.9 cm, 13 ¾ × 8 ⅝ in
Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Classical Buildings: Imaginary

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
299 as 'A Garden Terrace'; '1798'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2017


Francis Broderip (1788–1871); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 9 February 1872, lot 453; Thomas Woolner (1825–92); then by descent to Phyllis Woolner (1875–1960); bought from her, 1928

Exhibition History

Manchester, 1975, no.49


V&A 1929, p.48; Hardie, 1934, p.6; Mayne, 1949, p.98; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.67; Hardie, 1966–68, vol.2, p.12; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.151

About this Work

A Classical Seaport

Nothing like this ornate structure exists in even the grandest of eighteenth-century landscape gardens in Britain, and so there is no question that Girtin sketched the view from life. It is conceivable that the artist invented the subject working, as Martin Hardie has suggested, ‘with the grace and felicity’ of Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88) to produce a bravura example of his draughtsmanship (Hardie, 1966–68, vol.2, p.12). However, the narrow vertical format feels as though it were copied from a landscape designed to fit into a difficult space in a larger decorative scheme, and Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak not unreasonably proposed that it was made ‘after a painting of the eighteenth-century French School’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.175). However, despite extensive searches amongst prints after the work of artists such as Hubert Robert (1733–1808) and other artists who studied the Renaissance gardens of Italy, nothing comparable has been discovered. Expanding the net slightly wider, the closest match I have come up with is the fictitious classical seaport and garden scenes produced by the Dutch landscape artist Isaac de Moucheron (1667–1744) (see figure 1). And I suspect that it is more than a coincidence that amongst the ‘Drawings by Old Masters’ sold from the collection of Girtin’s great patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) after his death, there are five by Moucheron, which are variously listed as in ‘pen and Indian ink’ and forming ‘a pair, upright’ (Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 8 and 14). It is therefore possible that an untraced drawing by the Dutch artist was Girtin’s source here, not least because Moucheron seems to have provided the model for one of the Monro School collaborations between Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) showing the Ripa Grande in Rome (TG0556). This possibility has the added attraction that it fits the date of 1798 proposed by Girtin and Loshak rather than the later 1801 suggested by Hardie.

1794 - 1797

The Ripa Grande, Site of the Ancient Port of Rome, in an Imaginary Setting


by Greg Smith

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