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Works Thomas Girtin

A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section One: Somerset House to Blackfriars Bridge

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1378: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section One: Somerset House to Blackfriars Bridge, (?) 1796, graphite and watercolour on paper, 15.2 × 45.7 cm, 6 × 18 in (approximate measurements). Private Collection (Untraced).

Photo courtesy of Private Collection (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section One: Somerset House to Blackfriars Bridge
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
15.2 × 45.7 cm, 6 × 18 in (approximate measurement)
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
London and Environs; Panoramic Format; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
140 as 'The Thames from Adelphi Terrace'; '1795–6'
Description Source(s)
Photograph in the Finberg Archive, Tate Britain, Study Room


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); probably Christie's, 1 April 1911, lot 124 as ‘Panorama of London’ by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin, 8 × 65 in; ‘Gabriel’, £20 9s 6d; Fine Art Society, London, 1912

Exhibition History

Possibly Dudley Galleries, London, 1913


Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.58–59; Morris, 1986, p.24; Morris, 1988, pp.60–63; Smith, 2002b, pp.192–93; Smith, 2018, pp.25–30

About this Work

This is one of three extended pencil drawings that together make up a 180-degree view looking south out over the river Thames from the Adelphi (the others being TG1379 and TG1380). Despite every effort, the unique set of drawings remains untraced, having last been seen in 1912, when it was sold by the Fine Art Society, London, and the images shown here are reproduced from black and white photographs taken then.1 There is, however, enough detail to confirm the attribution to Girtin and to give an approximate date of 1796 to scenes that are equivalent to three double-page spreads from a sketchbook; connected together, they form a detailed panoramic view of the city’s buildings, with Blackfriars Bridge framing the view to the east and Westminster Bridge closing off the view to the west (Smith, 2018, pp.25–30). The drawings were almost certainly made from one of the upper windows of the residence of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), at whose home at the west end of the Royal Terrace Girtin and his exact contemporary, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), worked during the winter months of 1794 through to 1798. It is likely that Monro commissioned the drawings from Girtin as a record of the spectacular river view that he inherited when he moved into the Adelphi in the spring of 1794.

'A West View of London with the Bridge, taken from Somerset Gardens'

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak illustrated only this first third of the 180-degree view and, in discussing the drawing simply in relation to its significance as a precursor to Girtin’s later panorama of London, the Eidometropolis (1801–2), they underestimated the work’s value as a topographical record of the city’s ever-changing face, confusing at the same time the very different experience of the immersive 360-degree panorama with a wide-angled view that is merely panoramic (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.153). The authors were right, however, to draw a parallel with the work of Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) (1697–1768), whose view from Somerset Gardens Girtin presumably knew from the print by Edward Rooker (1724–74) (see figure 1) and who influenced a generation of artists’ depictions of the Thames from the north bank. But, whilst Canaletto chose his viewpoint with care so that the gardens in the foreground matched the elegant vista of Sir Christopher Wren’s (1632–1723) city churches beyond, Girtin’s elevated position from further east resulted in a view in which London’s wharves and river traffic played a more significant role. Drawing a 180-degree view from a window meant that the artist was compelled to record what was there and not what might make for an attractive picture. In closing the first section to the right, he had no option but to give equal or greater prominence to a utilitarian industrial building, Watts’ Shot Tower, compared to any of the city’s finest monuments other than St Paul’s Cathedral.

Another extended view of the river appeared at auction in 1911 (Sotheby's, 8 December 1911, lot 171). Described as a 'Drawing: A Long Panoramic View of the Thames (Surrey side) from Blackfriars to Westminster, in sepia, signed Thomas Girtin, 1796’ and measuring 16 ½ × 67 in (41.9 × 170.2 cm) it too has not been traced.



(?) 1796

A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section Two: The Surrey Bank


(?) 1796

A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section Three: Westminster Bridge to York Stairs


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 This was probably the ‘panoramic view of London’ shown at the Dudley Galleries in London in 1913 as ‘attributed to Thomas Girtin and J. M. W. Turner’. But as the anonymous critic of The Architect noted, ‘the evidence to support the latter’s co-operation in the drawing is not strong’ (The Architect & Contract Reporter, vol.90, 29 August 1913, p.196). The double attribution suggests that the drawing might well have been the ‘Panorama of London’ listed as by Turner and Girtin in an auction at Christie’s in 1911 even though the measurements do not quite match (Christie's, 1 April 1911, lot 124).

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