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Works Thomas Girtin

A Lane at Hampstead

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1388: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Lane at Hampstead, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, on a card mount, 31.8 × 28.4 cm, 12 ½ × 11 ⅛ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1089-1884).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Lane at Hampstead
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper, on a card mount
31.8 × 28.4 cm, 12 ½ × 11 ⅛ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
London and Environs; Picturesque Vernacular

A Lane at Hampstead (TG0209)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2017


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911) (lent to London, 1875); by a settlement to his sister, Julia Hog Cooper (née Girtin) (1839–1904); her sale, Davis, Castleton, Sherborne, 2 December 1884, lot 50; bought by the Museum

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.80 as 'Lane in Hampstead'; Grasmere, 1995, no.65


V&A, 1927, p.231; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.151

About this Work

Hampstead remained a country village well into the nineteenth century, and Girtin was just one of a host of landscape artists who visited and sketched its rural scenery close to the centre of London. As a young apprentice, Girtin was not free to travel much beyond London, and all of his earliest on-the-spot sketches depict scenes that he could take in by foot (such as TG0016). Hampstead, together with Highgate, on an elevated position a few kilometres to the north, was unsurprisingly a favoured destination (such as in TG0060). Indeed, Girtin himself seems to have sketched this view showing the same row of cottages on one such early trip, and this resulted in a watercolour that dates to around 1793–94 (TG0187). Returning to his sketch five or so years later, the artist changed the format of the drawing to upright and created a more claustrophobic composition, with the cottages now overwhelmed by trees, though otherwise he retained all of the main features, including the well to the left. The addition of pigs and a donkey in the foreground further increased the view’s rural character, though the poor condition of the work, faded and discoloured, has detracted considerably from its overall effect.

Picturesque views of Hampstead were common well before artists such as John Constable (1776–1837) and John Linnell (1792–1882) made the village their home in the 1820s, using the heath as the subject for many of their works. The lane known as North End, which leads to the north part of the heath and the Spaniards Inn, was a particularly popular subject with artists, many of whom ended up at the pub. A fine studio watercolour by Dominic Serres the Younger (c.1761–1804) (see figure 1) appears to show the same road depicted in an aquatint titled North End – from Hampstead (see figure 2), and both have enough features in common with Girtin’s work to suggest that his view was taken in the same lane. The neat wooden fence that appears in all three views is perhaps the only feature that might suggest that, unlike an otherwise similar rural scene by Girtin showing Turver’s Farm near Radwinter, Essex (TG1415), the subject of this view was easily accessible to the artist’s predominantly urban audience.


St Mary’s Church, Battersea



London from Highgate Hill





1799 - 1800

Turver’s Farm, Wimbish


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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