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Works Thomas Girtin

An Inn Yard, Edgware Road, Paddington


Primary Image: TG1747: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), An Inn Yard, Edgware Road, Paddington, 1801, graphite on laid paper, 14.8 × 22.7 cm, 5 ⅞ × 9 in. British Museum, London (1889,0603.26).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Inn Yard, Edgware Road, Paddington
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
14.8 × 22.7 cm, 5 ⅞ × 9 in

‘T GIRTIN / 1801 -’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Presentation Drawing
Subject Terms
London and Environs; Picturesque Vernacular

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Robert Jackson (dealer, active 1876–1898); bought from him, 1889


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.62

About this Work

This bravura display of draughtsmanship is said to represent an inn yard on the Edgware Road, near Paddington, one of the main thoroughfares leading to and from London. It is not clear where the title comes from, though it is quite plausible given that Girtin was living nearby at St George’s Row, Tyburn, close to modern-day Hyde Park Corner, in the year it was produced, 1801. Indeed, as can be seen from a sketch taken by Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809) from the back of the same terrace in which Girtin rented his accommodation (see figure 1), it was just a short walk across open fields to reach one of the many inns that occupied a part of London that was still then primarily rural in character, and that consequently provided numerous picturesque subjects for artists (see figure 2). Thus, whilst the drawing could represent farm buildings drawn just about anywhere in the country, I suspect that the title may have been inscribed on an earlier mount, and that the view does indeed represent not just a characteristically oblique view of the stabling facilities provided by an inn drawn from life but also a local scene with a similar character to the contemporary study of the artist’s home at St George’s Row (TG1745). Any thoughts that I once had that the drawing might have been copied from a study by George Morland (1763–1804), whose inn scenes were popular at the time, have long been dismissed, therefore.

Part of my reason for initially linking the drawing to Morland stemmed from the uncharacteristic nature of Girtin’s sketch, which sees the subject worked equally across the sheet. This, combined with the almost programmatic way in which the artist has introduced a series of different techniques to depict the contrasting textures and patterns of the building materials, as well as the vegetation, suggests that the drawing was made for reproduction in a manual for amateurs to copy and thereby master some of the basic skills of draughtsmanship. This thought is reinforced by the prominent and decorative way in which the signature and date are incorporated into the design; certainly, there is no precedent in Girtin’s drawings either for the form of the inscription or for this level and consistency of finish, which would have been of no practical use in his own practice as a landscape watercolourist. Something similar was produced by the publisher and dealer John Harris (c.1740–1811), who gathered together numerous examples of Morland’s pencil sketches and published them in the mid-1790s as a series of ‘Sketch Books’ aimed at the amateur market, providing beginners in the art with models to copy (see TG1518 figure 1). If this is indeed what Girtin had in mind, no print has been located, and any plans he may have had took a back seat at a time when he was labouring on completing the Eidometropolis, his monumental London panorama, prior to leaving for France in November of 1801.

(?) 1801

St George’s Row, Tyburn


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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