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Works Thomas Girtin after Unknown Artist

A Romantic Landscape

1796 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0877: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after an Unknown Artist, A Romantic Landscape, 1796–97, graphite, watercolour, gum arabic and scratching out on wove paper, 31.4 × 48.9 cm, 12 ⅜ × 19 ¼ in. Wichita Art Museum, Kansas. Museum purchase, Virginia and George Ablah Fund (1985.45).

Photo courtesy of Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Virginia and George Ablah Fund (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Unknown Artist
  • A Romantic Landscape
1796 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour, gum arabic and scratching out on wove paper
31.4 × 48.9 cm, 12 ⅜ × 19 ¼ in
Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; River Scenery; Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
301 as '1798–9 or later'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Mrs I. J. Dunne (Bury, 1950); Christie's, 15 June 1982, lot 94 as 'Anglers by a Rocky Stream, a ruined Castle on a Bluff Behind'; Christie’s, 15 November 1983, lot 166; bought by Abbott and Holder, London, £3,240; bought from them by the Museum, 1985


Bury, 1950, pp.82–83

About this Work

This watercolour of an imaginary river scene, with a ruined castle perched on a bluff beyond, was in all likelihood painted by Girtin after a print by another artist, though the source has yet to be identified. Girtin copied a similar view of a castle on a rocky outcrop from a print after Claude Lorrain (1604/5–82) (TG0878), and a composition by another seventeenth-century landscape artist is the most likely source in this case too; certainly, the boldly situated castle bears no resemblance to any scene to be found in the British landscape. However, extensive searches amongst the large number of prints after the works of landscape artists such as Salvator Rosa (1615–73) and Gaspard Dughet (1615–75), who were much admired at the end of the eighteenth century, have not produced any close matches with this composition.

Even though the rather crude nature of the watercolour, with its improbably placed castle on an equally unconvincing rock formation, suggests a relatively early date of say around 1796, I extended the search for its source to artists that Girtin copied later in his career, including Herman van Swanevelt (1603–55). An etching by him of a similar subject, titled The Castle on a Rock (see source image TG1914), was adapted by Girtin with some significant changes. If such was the case here, and Girtin made wholesale alterations to his original material, it may be that although I have been looking at the right artists for the work’s source, the connection has been missed. Indeed, if that were the case, then the work might date from later, when Girtin’s copies seem to have been made with the open art market in mind, rather than as commissions from patrons such as John Henderson (1764–1843), who required a more faithful realisation of the printed original.

1796 - 1797

Narcissus: A Landscape Adapted from a Composition by Claude Lorrain



A River Scene with a Castle on a Cliff


by Greg Smith

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