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Works Unknown Artist

A River Scene, with Boats

1798 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1400: An Unknown Artist, A River Scene, with Boats, 1798–1802, watercolour on wove paper, 14 × 22.2 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ¾ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (DYCE.724).

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

Unknown Artist
  • A River Scene, with Boats
1798 - 1802
Medium and Support
Watercolour on wove paper
14 × 22.2 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ¾ in
Object Type
Formerly attributed to Thomas Girtin
Subject Terms
Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2018


Revd Alexander Dyce (1798–1869); bequeathed to the Museum, 1869


South Kensington Museum, 1874, p.105 as 'River Scene, with Boats' by Thomas Girtin; V&A, 1927, p.233; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.151 as 'formerly attributed to' Thomas Girtin; V&A Collections Online as by Thomas Girtin (Accessed 16/09/2022)

About this Work

This is one of three landscapes that came from the collection of Revd Alexander Dyce (1798–1869) and that in the early years following their bequest to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, were attributed to Girtin (the others being figure 1 and figure 2). None of the watercolours were included by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak in their catalogue of Girtin’s works (Girtin and Loshak, 1954), however, and they have subsequently been listed as ‘formerly attributed to’ the artist. This view does feature in a file in the Girtin Archive (14) titled ‘Weeds on the Wall’, however. Here Thomas Girtin assembled images of ‘Weeds’, watercolours that had been attributed to Girtin and that he thought might damage the artist’s reputation if not challenged; in this case, he suggested that the work might be by François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839). This seems very optimistic, especially as it has faded badly, and I am inclined to link it to the other two Dyce watercolours and say that it too is by a contemporary amateur follower or pupil. Indeed, it is possible that at least two of the works are by the same artist, though their identity is unlikely to be established. The compositions of all three landscapes have an open, panoramic feel to them, reminiscent to some degree of the work of William Pearson (1772–1849) (see figure 3), but the application of the washes is lifeless and the detailing of forms is no more than formulaic. The landscapes are typical, therefore, of the works of Girtin’s less talented followers that have compromised the artist’s reputation in the past.

by Greg Smith

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