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Works Thomas Girtin

Abbotsbury: The Tithe Barn, with a Pond

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1248: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Abbotsbury: The Tithe Barn, with a Pond, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 16.2 × 24.1 cm, 6 ⅜ × 9 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Abbotsbury: The Tithe Barn, with a Pond
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
16.2 × 24.1 cm, 6 ⅜ × 9 ½ in

‘Girtin’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin (the signature has been cut, suggesting that it once extended onto an original mount which has been lost)

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; Picturesque Vernacular; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Abbotsbury: The Tithe Barn, with a Pond (TG1247)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue


Archdeacon Charles Parr Burney (1785–1864); then by descent to Gertrude Burney; Sotheby’s, 20 January 1954, lot 74 (one of nine); bought by P & D Colnaghi & Co., £70; John Trevor Roberts Roberts, 2nd Baron Clwyd (1900–87); bought by Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1958; ... Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1983

Exhibition History

Spink’s, London, 1983, no.9

About this Work

This view of the monumental tithe barn at Abbotsbury in Dorset was executed from an on-the-spot colour sketch that Girtin made on his West Country tour in the autumn of 1797 (TG1247). The artist is documented as having been in Exeter in early November, and it seems that his visit there to sketch an interior view of the cathedral was preceded by a journey along the Dorset coast that took in Weymouth and Lyme Regis, as well as Abbotsbury, where he produced another on-the-spot colour study of the early fifteenth-century tithe barn (TG1246) (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1 That sketch, which shows a close-up view of the tithe barn from an oblique angle, formed the basis for a full-scale studio watercolour (TG1425), whilst this work is actually smaller than the on-the-spot study it is based on. Working on this reduced scale, Girtin produced a more sketch-like effect that preserves much of the spontaneity of its source, so much so that were it not for the survival of the original drawing, it might easily be mistaken for a work coloured from nature. Though the addition of a figure and cow to the right might suggest that this is a studio work, it is only really the presence of a prominent signature at the bottom that confirms its status. Girtin did sign many of his on-the-spot sketches, presumably when he sold them, but in this case the fact that the lower part of his name has been cut points to the fact that the view was once surrounded by a mount, which was added by the artist as an integral part of the composition. The signature must have strayed onto the mount so that when it was later removed, part of the signature went as well. There is no doubt, therefore, that the drawing was created in the studio to replicate the effect of the original sketch, and that it was done to appeal to a part of the art market that appreciated the informal qualities of Girtin’s on-the-spot drawings and the lower prices that the less labour-intensive commodities made possible.

(?) 1797

Abbotsbury: The Tithe Barn, with a Pond


1797 - 1798

The Tithe Barn, Abbotsbury


1799 - 1800

A View on the River Medway with a Boatyard, Beached Vessels and Hulks


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The financial records of the artist's brother John Girtin (1773–1821) include two loans he made to Thomas Girtin during the trip. The records are transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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