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Works Thomas Girtin

A Mill Stream

1800 - 1801

Print after: Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), mezzotint, A Mill Stream,1822/23, published belatedly in Liber Naturae; or, A Collection of Prints from the Drawings of Thomas Girtin, pl.12, London, 1883, 14.4 × 18.3 cm, 5 ⅝ × 7 ¼ in. British Museum, London (1893,0612.82.13).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Mill Stream
1800 - 1801
Part of
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
River Scenery; Wind and Water Mills

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

This work is known only from a mezzotint produced by Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835) that was not actually published until 1883, long after his death (see print after, above, Neill & Son, 1883). Some of the other mezzotints produced by Reynolds were published in 1823–24, and this is the date that is generally given to the undated prints. However, a document dating from 1801 that records that the engraver, who also acted as Girtin’s representative, owned a stock of the artist’s works to the value of £178 10s, comprising ‘19 large size’ and ‘10 smaller’, also notes that he owned ‘Plates from drawings by Girtin’ to the value of £60 (Reynolds, Letter, 1801).1 It is therefore likely that Reynolds at least began work on mezzotints such as this view of a mill stream whilst the artist was still alive and Reynolds had access to the watercolours prior to selling them on.

This is actually one of the least impressive of Reynolds’ prints, the best of which capture, and sometimes enhance, the drama of the original (see print after TG1656). However, because the watercolour on which it was based has never been traced, it is not clear where the blame lies for the poor perspective and the confusion between the buildings and the trees. In the circumstances, there is not even any proof that the original drawing was by Girtin.


York Minster from the South East, Layerthorpe Bridge and Postern to the Right


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 The details are contained in a letter from Reynolds to Sawrey Gilpin (1733–1807). The letter is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1801 – Item 4).

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