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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0376: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance, 1794–95, graphite on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN), 15.2 × 19.7 cm, 6 × 7 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXVII 31 (D36602).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN)
15.2 × 19.7 cm, 6 × 7 ¾ in
Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Unidentified Topographical View

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance (TG0377)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1240 as 'Road running past cottages and trees, with church in distance' by Thomas Girtin; Tate Online as 'View along a Road past Houses among Trees, with Houses and a Church Tower in the Distance' (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of an unidentified village with a distant church tower is one of forty or so outline drawings by Girtin that came from the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and that are now part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. Most of the drawings were copied from the compositions of other artists, particularly Girtin’s first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and the artist’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). In turn, the outlines formed the basis of a large number of small coloured cards executed by Girtin for Monro around 1795–96 on a support measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm). In this case, the small watercolour has been identified in the collection of the British Museum (TG0377), where it was wrongly attributed to Dayes until the intervention of Andrew Wilton (Wilton, 1984a, p.23). The source for Girtin’s image has not been found, however. It is possible that Girtin sketched the view himself from nature, or perhaps even invented the subject, but the commission from Monro seems to have been directed towards the production of finished watercolours from sketches in his collection, and Dayes may indeed have been the ultimate source for the composition. Many of the drawings by Dayes that are listed in the various sales from Monro’s collection specify subjects that are impossible to reconcile with the generalised village scene shown here, but it is likely that Girtin would have been able to find such a picturesque subject amongst the more than a hundred untitled ‘Coloured sketches … of buildings’ that Monro accrued (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lots 36–40). The lack of specific topographical information means it is unlikely that we will ever be able to identify the location of the village, though it is possible that the same church tower is shown in another pencil drawing in the Turner Bequest (TG0380).

The quality of the draughtsmanship varies across the outlines in the Turner Bequest, but few are as summary as this example. It is a reminder that they are purely utilitarian records, containing only sufficient information to produce a small-scale sketch-like watercolour (in this case, TG0377).

The attribution of the pencil outlines in the Turner Bequest was a matter of considerable confusion until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s cogently argued article on the Monro School in 1984 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.9–10). Initially, Alexander Finberg, the first cataloguer of the bequest, ascribed the outlines to Girtin but thought that they were made on the spot (Finberg, 1913). Charles F. Bell, in turn, recognised that the drawings were copies, but suggested that they were made by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) in relation to his work on Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (1792) (Bell, 1915–17, pp.60–66). Then in 1938 Bell changed his mind and switched the attribution to Dayes, citing a letter from Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) in which he stated his opinion that the drawings he had bought from Monro’s sale had been produced by Girtin’s master (Bell, 1938–39, pp.97–103). Finally, Wilton’s article seems to have settled the argument, and I for one have no doubts about the attribution to Girtin of the set of drawings.

1795 - 1796

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


(?) 1795

An Unidentified Landscape, with a Church amongst Trees


1795 - 1796

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


by Greg Smith

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