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Works Thomas Girtin

An Exterior View of Henry VII’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey

1790 - 1791

Primary Image: TG0026: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), An Exterior View of Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, 1790–91, watercolour and pen and ink on paper, 9.8 cm, 3 ⅞ in diameter. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (181067, vol.26, p.38).

Photo courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'Henry VII's Chapel, in Westminster Abbey' for The Temple of Taste, no.6, 1 April 1795, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.4, 1820. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Exterior View of Henry VII’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey
1790 - 1791
Medium and Support
Watercolour and pen and ink on paper
9.8 cm, 3 ⅞ in diam.

‘T Girtin’ lower left, by Girtin; ‘Henry VIIths Chapell’ lower centre

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001

Exhibition History

Huntington, 1993, no catalogue

About this Work

This signed drawing by Girtin was engraved and subsequently published by Charles Taylor (1756–1823) in his periodical The Temple of Taste on 1 April 1795. The text, bound alongside the engraving, notes that the print was taken ‘from an original drawing’, and since this particular formula is not used elsewhere there is a possibility that Girtin in this case did not base his watercolour on the work of another artist. The drawing was unknown to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak (Girtin and Loshak, 1954) and was discovered after the publication of their catalogue in an extra-illustrated copy of John and Josiah Boydell’s The Dramatic Works of Shakespeare (1802). The edition originally ran to nine volumes, but this was expanded by its owner, Thomas Turner (unknown dates), to forty-five volumes by collecting and binding in more than 740 drawings and 3,000 prints as illustrations to the text of Shakespeare’s plays (Wark, 1993, pp.160–61). Turner began his collection of illustrations in 1835, but there are earlier examples of collectors adding drawings by Girtin into published texts, though they were without exception topographical publications, such as Thomas Pennant’s (1726–98) Some Account of London (TG1410 and TG1411). Typically, these drawings were small in scale, being sketches or early works that suited the budgets of collectors who purchased items, as here, for their sometimes quite tenuous links to a text.

The architectural views included in The Temple of Taste were primarily classical buildings with the sole exception of three views of Westminster Abbey. Henry VII’s Chapel – or, more properly, the Lady Chapel – was built in the last years of the king’s life (1503–c.1510) to house the shrine of his father, Henry VI, whom the king hoped to see canonised. Taylor’s text describes the structure, which later became the burial place for the Tudor dynasty, in characteristically patriotic terms. He states that it is ‘reckoned the most curious and exquisite piece of Gothic architecture, as well externally as internally, in Europe’, adding that it was ‘erected when the study of Gothic had attained its highest excellence’. In all Girtin may have made as many as twenty-one drawings for Taylor’s publication, though this is one of only six that are known to survive.

(?) 1799

London: The Leathersellers’ Hall


(?) 1799

London: The Interior of the Ruins of the Leathersellers’ Hall


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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