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Works Thomas Girtin

A Village in a Wood

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0236: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Village in a Wood, 1794–95, graphite on wove paper, 18.8 × 23.5 cm, 7 ⅜ × 9 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1181).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Village in a Wood
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
18.8 × 23.5 cm, 7 ⅜ × 9 ¼ in
Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
173 as 'c. 1796'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

New Haven, 1986a, no.47

About this Work

Trees in Ashtead Park, Surrey

This pencil drawing of an unidentified village amongst trees came from the collection of Girtin’s first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and like the majority of works from that source it appears to have been copied from another artist. It is far too carefully composed for an on-the-spot sketch, and, tellingly, it features a neat group of figures and animals of a type that never formed part of Girtin’s sketching practice in the field. Girtin produced numerous copies of Moore’s sketches, but they are almost exclusively antiquarian subjects, and this complex composition is well beyond Moore’s limited capabilities as an artist. Girtin seems to have made a number of pencil copies after landscape sketches in the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) by his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804) (such as TG0376), and initially at least this seemed to have been the case here. However, the tenor of this rural, tree-filled scene feels much closer to another artist who was well represented in Monro’s collection, Thomas Hearne (1744–1817). In addition to numerous topographical studies by Hearne, Monro’s collection contained unnamed ‘Landscapes in pencil, highly finished’ (Christie’s, 27 June 1833, lot 43), and it was from drawings by Hearne such as Trees in Ashtead Park, Surrey (see figure 1) that Girtin appears to have produced copies in pencil around 1795, perhaps building up a repertoire of subjects for use in small sketch-like watercolours. These were produced en masse for Monro, and his posthumous sale also included nine ‘Views, after Hearne’ by Girtin (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lots 109 and 113), though how this one example of a picturesque rural scene came to be in Moore’s possession is unclear. However, we can be fairly sure that Moore’s sketches went in the opposite direction, as many of them formed the basis for Girtin’s commissions from Monro, and, in any case, the broader point is that Hearne’s influence on Girtin at this date went much further than simply providing a model of how dry antiquarian subjects might be dramatised. A Village in a Wood is one of the first signs of Girtin’s interest in a type of picturesque rural imagery that recurred throughout his subsequent career, and this clearly stemmed not just from his master, Dayes, but also from Hearne.

1794 - 1795

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


by Greg Smith

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