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Works Thomas Girtin

A Sheet of Figure Studies: Women Washing Clothes at a River

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1901: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Sheet of Figure Studies: Women Washing Clothes at a River, 1801–02, graphite on wove paper, 11 × 17.7 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1912.4.3).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Sheet of Figure Studies: Women Washing Clothes at a River
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
11 × 17.7 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 in
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Figure Studies

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
484b as 'Two women washing clothes at a stream'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Girtin (1836–1912); then by a settlement to his sister, Mary Hog Barnard (1829–99); then by descent to Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); presented to the Museum, 1912


Brown, 1982, p.342, no.747 as 'Presumably another Paris study'

About this Work

David Brown, in his catalogue of the drawings in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, has suggested that this sheet of studies of women washing clothes in a river was made from life during Girtin’s stay in Paris during the winter and early spring of 1801–2 (Brown, 1982, p.342). The drawing is mounted together with two other small sheets of figure studies that were almost certainly made in France (TG1899 and TG1900), and the subject itself was a familiar one with travellers to the French capital, who often commented on the ‘picturesque’ sight of numerous washerwomen at work on the banks of the Seine. No such figures populate any of Girtin’s Paris prints, however. Although it is certainly possible that the sheet was made on the trip to France with the intention of including the figures in one of the artist’s works, the nearest equivalent to this group that I can find is in a late view of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders (TG1723). And, even then, it is by no means clear that the women were sketched from life, as they also bear a more than passing resemblance to figures found in the prints after Marco Ricci (1676–1730) that Girtin made a number of copies from at around about this date (see TG1723 figure 2). It may be that the drawing is on the same paper as the other two French studies, and knowing this for certain would help with assessing its status, but, even if it was made in Paris, there is still a good chance that the images were taken from another source, rather than having been sketched from life on the Seine. It is also possible that the sheet has been cut down to make a more coherent group, as what appears to be an unrelated male figure at the top has been cropped. 

1801 - 1802

A Sheet of Figure Studies


1801 - 1802

A Sheet of Figure Studies Relating to ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’


1800 - 1801

Jedburgh from the River, with the Abbey Beyond


by Greg Smith

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