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Works Thomas Girtin

A Thatched Barn with Farm Animals

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0913: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Thatched Barn with Farm Animals, 1794–95, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 19 × 26 cm, 7 ½ × 10 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F03342-0019 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Thatched Barn with Farm Animals
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
19 × 26 cm, 7 ½ × 10 ¼ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; Rural Labour

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 1 July 1833, lot 115 as 'Farm buildings and trees, unfinished'; bought by 'Colnaghi', £3 10s; William Wells of Redleaf (1768–1847); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 22 January 1857, lot 312 as 'Study of old barns'; bought by 'Palser', £15 15s; J. Palser & Sons; Henry Bright; Charles Theobald Maud (1797–1877); W. J. Broderife; R. A. Bushell; his sale, Sotheby’s, 16 March 1978, lot 117, £950

About this Work

Farmhouse and Buildings by a Stream

This view of a dilapidated thatched barn came from the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and may have been the item sold as ‘Farm buildings and trees, unfinished’ at his posthumous sale (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lot 115). As with other rural scenes from around 1795–96, such as A Farmyard with Pigs Drinking at a Pond (TG0923), this lightly coloured pencil sketch appears to have been copied from a drawing by Thomas Hearne (1744–1817). The washes of grey, brown and blue were likely added to create the impression that the work had been studied on the spot, and it is certainly not unfinished in the general sense of the word. Monro had an extensive collection of Hearne’s works, including seven ‘Landscapes in pencil, highly finished’ (Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 43) and a variety of sketches of ‘farm buildings’. It is therefore likely that Girtin made this drawing at his patron’s house. Hearne had a particular interest in vernacular buildings, and he sketched them avidly on his travels, introducing them into his watercolours as ‘symbolic of a simple, honest and laborious rural life’, as David Morris has noted (Morris, 1989, p.128) (see figure 1). There is no evidence that Girtin saw rural imagery in such a moral light, but Hearne’s influence, although initially limited to copying works for Monro, had a more long-lasting impact. Like Hearne, Girtin began to produce studies of vernacular buildings during his travels, and picturesque barns, similar to the example shown here, became a staple part of his working practice, resulting in watercolours such as A Barn by a Road (TG1793).

1795 - 1796

A Farmyard with Pigs Drinking at a Pond


(?) 1802

A Barn by a Road


by Greg Smith

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