For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

A Picturesque House Overlooking a River, with Distant Windmills

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1436: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Picturesque House Overlooking a River, with Distant Windmills, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 21.6 × 31.7 cm, 8 ½ × 12 ½ in. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington (68.129).

Photo courtesy of Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Picturesque House Overlooking a River, with Distant Windmills
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
21.6 × 31.7 cm, 8 ½ × 12 ½ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
454 as '"The House on the Moor"'; '1801 or 1802'


Part of the collection of Indiana University at Bloomington by 1918

Exhibition History

Indiana, 1986 (catalogue untraced); Indiana, 1996 (catalogue untraced)


Brooks, 1918, pp.144 and 149; Museum Website as 'The House on the Moor' (Accessed 17/09/2022)

About this Work

This badly faded watercolour depicts an unidentified house overlooking a meandering river in an open landscape, and, in terms of the subject and the palette it employs, it appears to form a pair with the similarly sized A House by a River (TG1437). Both drawings have been adversely affected by fading, though to what extent they were originally monochrome is not entirely clear. In this case, areas of pink and brown used for the roof suggest that the different brown tone in the sky is the residue of dark grey clouds that have faded, though whether the work has also lost blues from the sky, together with greens from the foreground, is difficult to say; certainly, the way in which the pencil underdrawing has become all too apparent suggests that the work has changed significantly. That this is not entirely to the detriment of the work stems from the fact that the artist developed a bold and dramatic composition, with the house viewed in isolation against a low horizon, and the scene lacks any of the conventional framing elements that typically feature in views of picturesque buildings at this date. Moreover, the predominantly dark tones suit the gaunt and monumental image, and perhaps not surprisingly the work is also known as ‘The House on the Moor’, though the scene in the distance is quite clearly a lowland view. The inclusion of two windmills to the right on a strip of land between two bodies of water suggests that, although the building has the same idiosyncratic air of having been studied from nature that is found in so many of Girtin’s views of picturesque vernacular buildings, the landscape setting was either the artist’s own invention or adapted from elsewhere with not entirely satisfactory results.

watercolour on paper, 18.7 × 30.2 cm, 7 ⅜ × 11 ⅞ in. 1stDibs Gallery, Sevenoaks.

A slightly smaller version of the composition was sold with an attribution to Girtin in 1974 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 4 June 1974, lot 121). However, with no illustration it has not hitherto been possible to comment on the authorship of the work. The drawing reappeared on the art market in 2023 now attributed to Girtin’s best known pupil Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837), though with no reason given for the change of authorship (see figure 1). The watercolour is certainly not by Girtin and comparisons with other copies by Long of Girtin’s works such as A Barn (TG1418 figure 1) confirms the plausibility of the new attribution. If this was indeed the case it might suggest that Girtin’s original was either at some time in Long’s possession or that she was given access to the drawing to copy as part of her tuition from the artist.

1798 - 1799

A House by a River


1799 - 1800

Barns and a Pond, Said to Be near Bromley


by Greg Smith

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.