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Works Thomas Girtin

A Landscape with a Distant Church

(?) 1794

Primary Image: TG0185: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Landscape with a Distant Church, (?) 1794, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, on an early mount, 11 × 19 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 ½ in. Abbott and Holder, London.

Photo courtesy of Abbott and Holder, London

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Landscape with a Distant Church
(?) 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper, on an early mount
11 × 19 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
11.6 × 19.9 cm, 4 ⁹⁄₁₆ × 7 ⅞ in

‘T. Girtin’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in April 2022


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); ... Christie’s, 27 March 1936, lot 1 as one of 'Six other Sepia Drawings of Landscapes and Sky Studies'; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons; Norman Dakeyne Newall (1888–1952); his widow, Leslia Newall (d.1979); Christie’s, 14 December 1979, part of lot 249, £3,500; ... Abbott and Holder, London, 2022

Exhibition History

London, 2024, no.23

About this Work

This signed landscape study is one of a group of seven small monochrome watercolours that were sold together at auction in 1936 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 27 March 1936, lot 1). Two of the drawings identified as part of the group are dated 1794, A Cloud Study (TG0186) and Jedburgh Abbey, from the Riverbank (TG0188). Given that all of them appear to be on the same laid paper of similar dimensions, it is possible that they came from a sketchbook that was split up. A later inscription on Jedburgh Abbey notes that the drawing was once in the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and it was presumably at this time that the seven watercolours were mounted on uniform sheets of brown paper. Tom Girtin (1913–94) queried the attribution of the drawing, and Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak did not include any of the group of monochrome sketches in their 1954 catalogue of the artist’s works, but the signature on this drawing appears to be genuine, and I do not see any reason to query the dating of the drawings to 1794 either (Girtin and Loshak, 1954).

There is some uncertainty about the precise purpose and function of this drawing and two similar monochromes – An Unidentified Landscape (A Moorland View) (TG1377) and An Unidentified Landscape with Distant Buildings (TG0189) that again feature a silhouette of a distant building in a predominantly featureless setting. Thus, whilst the two sky studies from the group (TG0186 and TG0199) display clear signs of being sketched on the spot, and the view of Jedburgh Abbey must have been copied from the work of another artist, these three more generalised landscapes appear to be imaginary scenes. The formulaic skies shown here may have been dashed in with the same dispatch, but nothing resembles the carefully noted cumulous clouds depicted in A Cloud Study, and the tree to the left is frankly fantastical. Thus, it is surely significant that the artist added a signature to the work, suggesting that even as early as 1794, right at the beginning of his association with Monro, Girtin had discovered a market for his sketches and that this extended to works of imagination that merely purported to have been made on the spot, as well as more conventional nature studies.


A Cloud Study



Jedburgh Abbey, from the Riverbank


(?) 1794

An Unidentified Landscape, Known as ‘The Pool’


(?) 1794

An Unidentified Landscape with Distant Buildings



A Cloud Study


(?) 1794

A Sky Study


by Greg Smith

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