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Works Thomas Girtin

A Thatched Cottage amongst Trees

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1800: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Thatched Cottage amongst Trees, 1801–02, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 8.8 × 11.5 cm, 3 ½ × 4 ½ in. Tate, Turner Bequest XXIX M (D00718).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Thatched Cottage amongst Trees
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
8.8 × 11.5 cm, 3 ½ × 4 ½ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 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

About this Work

This monochrome study of a thatched cottage amongst trees appears to be related to a group of fifteen generally slight colour sketches, all measuring roughly 8.9 × 11.4 cm (3 ½ × 4 ½ in), that are in the collection of the British Museum. It measures the same size and employs the same monochrome palette as many of the sketches that have been ascribed to the last year of Girtin’s career, including Outhouses with a Cart (TG1796) and A Shady Road Leading to Cottages (TG1779). However, the drawing does not share the same provenance as the other sketches in the group, having come from the collection of Girtin’s early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), and the possibility that it was actually created five or so years earlier needs to be considered, not least because amongst the many hundreds of works that the artist made for Monro are a group of watercolours worked on a similar scale, such as The Gatehouse of Amberley Castle (TG0371). However, these were almost exclusively well-known topographical subjects, produced from sketches by other artists. Though some are more finished, like this work, they are mostly painted on a distinctive card – as with A Distant View of Tynemouth Priory (TG0850) – quite different from the paper used for the picturesque composition seen here. Thus, although it is difficult to see how the drawing came to find a place in Monro’s collection when there is no evidence that he acquired any of Girtin’s later works, on balance I think that it is related to the group of sketches from the British Museum after all, and that it may therefore have formed part of one of the ‘little Books’ that were split up for sale by the artist’s brother, John Girtin (1773–1821).1 He appropriated a large number of Girtin’s sketches after the latter’s death in order to settle his brother’s extensive unpaid debts, and these presumably dated from late in his career (Smith, 2017–18, pp.35–36). Could it therefore be that John Girtin sold this and other examples of his brother’s drawings to Monro, and therefore that not all of the patron’s holdings were produced for him as commissions?

(?) 1802

Outhouses with a Cart


(?) 1802

A Shady Road Leading to Cottages


1795 - 1796

The Gatehouse of Amberley Castle


1796 - 1797

A Distant View of Tynemouth Priory, from the Sea


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 Details are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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