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Works Thomas Girtin

A View in Windsor Great Park with Deer

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0174: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A View in Windsor Great Park with Deer, 1794–95, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 19 × 16 cm, 7 ½ × 6 ⅜ in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Connie Simmons and James D. Krugman Gift, 2018 (2018.678).

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Connie Simmons and James D. Krugman Gift, 2018 (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A View in Windsor Great Park with Deer
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
19 × 16 cm, 7 ½ × 6 ⅜ in

'Windor forest Girtin' on a paper used to mount the drawing, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Trees and Woods; Windsor and Environs

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in April 2018


Possibly Foster’s, 11 December 1912, lot 50; ... Arthur K. Hay; then by descent to Joseph B. Hay; his estate sale, Bateman’s, Stamford, 7 October 2017, lot 614; bought by Andrew Clayton-Payne; bought by the museum, 2018

Exhibition History

New York, 2023, online catalogue

About this Work

Detail of 'A View in Windsor Great Park with Deer' showing the inscription on the original mount

This recently discovered watercolour is in almost perfect condition and provides a good indication of the quality of Girtin’s work around 1794 and of the way in which it was presented by the artist. The drawing was originally backed onto a mount made from three sheets of paper, the largest of which formed the support of part of an earlier unfinished composition by Girtin showing a farmyard scene with figures and animals (TG0174a). The simple washline mount was inscribed at the bottom ‘Windsor forest Girtin’ (see figure 1), presumably by the artist himself, and these lines would have originally framed the drawing. Rather than showing ‘Windsor forest’, however, the watercolour appears to depict a scene in Windsor Great Park, with two deer in the foreground and more in the distance across an area of water. Girtin went on to collaborate with the specialist animal painter Samuel Howitt (1757–1823) to create another scene of deer in the park at Windsor (TG1373); however, whilst the location is established in that work by a view of the castle in the distance, here there is nothing to indicate that this is the royal park other than the title. The point is significant because it is unlikely that Girtin had visited Windsor himself by the probable date of this drawing’s production, and, as with other early views of the castle (TG0157 and TG0065), he may have copied his composition from another artist, as was so often the case with his topographical views of out-of-London subjects. On the other hand, the fact that there is no specific topographical reference to Windsor could equally mean that the artist believed that the combination of parkland scenery featuring ancient oaks and grazing deer was enough, with the addition of a title, to signify that the scene was the royal park. Thus, despite the title, I suspect that the scene is essentially imaginary and that the trees with their frankly fantastical forms were not studied from life in the Berkshire countryside. Indeed, the very qualities that make this work so attractive – its decorative richness and subtle array of patterns – point to something quite different from a topographical view either studied at first hand or copied from another artist.

One of the difficulties in cataloguing this work is the lack of comparative material from this date. Girtin’s views of Windsor Great Park are later, and, though he made a number of pencil drawings of pure landscapes, none of his watercolours prior to the late 1790s feature either a significant architectural motif or a prominent figure. The closest stylistic links are therefore with architectural subjects such as Caesar’s Tower, Warwick Castle (TG0239) and One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea (TG0352), produced for Girtin’s earliest patron, James Moore (1762–99). The former was copied after a watercolour by Michael Rooker (1746–1801) around 1794–95, and it is Girtin’s adoption at this date of that artist’s characteristic feature of working in blocks of colour over a lighter ground to create decorative patterns that helps most with the dating of A View in Windsor Great Park with Deer. Moreover, given that the Winchelsea view is actually dated 1796, it may be that my initial estimate of 1794 for this watercolour needs to be revised forward a little.

1793 - 1794

Rustic Figures in a Landscape, with Pigs


1795 - 1796

Stags Fighting amongst a Herd of Deer in Windsor Great Park, with the Castle in the Distance


1792 - 1793

Windsor Castle: The Norman Gateway and the Round Tower, with Part of the Queen’s Lodge


(?) 1792

Windsor Castle, from the River Thames


1794 - 1795

Caesar’s Tower, Warwick Castle


(?) 1796

One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea


by Greg Smith

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