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Works Thomas Girtin

A Riverside Farm

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1798: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Riverside Farm, 1801–02, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 10.1 × 17 cm, 4 × 6 ¾ in. British Museum, London (18550214.59).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Riverside Farm
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
10.1 × 17 cm, 4 × 6 ¾ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
420 as 'A River-Side Farm'; '1800–1'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Chambers Hall (1786–1855); presented to the Museum, 1855


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.16a; Dickey, 1931, p.172, fig.170

About this Work

This study of barns next to a river or a large pond is related to a group of sketches of rural buildings that Girtin made in the studio towards the end of his life, such as A Barn by a Road (TG1793), though it is slightly larger in size. The group of fifteen drawings appear to have come from one of the ‘little Books’ that were split up for sale after his death by his brother, John Girtin (1773–1821). Given that this work shares the same provenance, also coming from the collection of Chambers Hall (1786–1855), it too could date from the end of the artist’s life. It is unlikely that the drawing also comes from a book, not sharing its dimensions with any other sketch, but it employs a similar palette, and the subject too is closely related to a number of examples in the group at the British Museum. Some of these are clearly imaginary, but others, as here, resemble the picturesque vernacular subjects sketched by Girtin in Essex three or four years earlier (such as TG1757). The latter point has led me to conclude that, although they were evidently created at speed, studies such as this were not coloured on the spot and were painted instead in the studio to satisfy the market for the less formal aspects of the artist’s output. Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak dated the drawing to a little earlier (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.191) than the group they thought was made in 1802, but the colouring is so close to a number of other watercolours, such as A Barn by a Road, as to suggest that it was worked on at the same time, possibly with the artist moving from one sheet to another, adding a single tone to each in turn. The fact that the work that this sketch is closest to visually is a Yorkshire scene drawn in 1799 does not invalidate the argument, since A Crag on the River Nidd (TG1510) appears to have been coloured later, possibly even in the same session. Certainly, the colour in both works fulfils no practical function for the artist; instead, it is essentially decorative, transforming a simple pencil drawing into a pseudo-sketch, which makes for a more attractive commodity for sale.

(?) 1802

A Barn by a Road


1800 - 1801

A Farmyard with Cattle, Poultry and Labourers Unloading Hay, Possibly Pinckney’s Farm, Radwinter


1799 - 1800

A Crag on the River Nidd


by Greg Smith

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