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Works Thomas Girtin

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

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1379: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Panoramic View of the Thames from the Adelphi Terrace, Section Two: The Surrey Bank, (?) 1796, graphite and watercolour on paper, 15.2 × 45.7 cm, 6 × 18 in (approximate measurement). 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 Two: The Surrey Bank
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
15.2 × 45.7 cm, 6 × 18 in (appro×imate 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 the central scene from a set 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 TG1378 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 View of Amsterdam from the North West

The middle section of Girtin’s 180-degree view, depicting the Surrey bank of the Thames opposite to Girtin’s viewpoint on the Adelphi, shows a very different world to the scenes to the east and west. Prior to the opening of Waterloo Bridge, this area of Southwark and Lambeth was comparatively underdeveloped, and the riverbank itself was home to a cluttered mix of timber yards, barge builders, iron foundries, brewers and myriad manufacturers, all making for a heterogeneous muddle. Beyond this narrow band, as Girtin diligently records, the landscape was still predominantly rural, and the artist responded to the distinctive character of the scenery by adopting a different set of landscape conventions. Thus, in place of the crisp pencil lines used to record the precise details of the architecture in the adjacent sheets, here Girtin employed a looser style of draughtsmanship in which a more extensive use of wash captures the varying textures of the building materials as well as the rural character of the landscape behind. The picturesque results recall any number of Dutch landscapes, but particularly etchings by the great Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1609–69). His Amsterdam from the North-West (see figure 1) forms a similar panoramic scene, with a mix of the rural and the industrial compressed into a narrow belt in the middle ground. Monro’s collection contained prints by Rembrandt, and it may be that Girtin had such an etching in mind when he executed this drawing, just as the influence of Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) (1697–1768) is felt in the adjacent scenes.

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 One: Somerset House to Blackfriars Bridge


(?) 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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