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Works Thomas Girtin

An Unidentified Landscape, Possibly the Vale of Clwyd

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1338: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), An Unidentified Landscape, Possibly the Vale of Clwyd, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 31.4 × 50.8 cm, 12 ⅜ × 20 in. Private Collection, North Wales (Lowell Libson, Ltd.)

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, Agnew's, London (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Unidentified Landscape, Possibly the Vale of Clwyd
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
31.4 × 50.8 cm, 12 ⅜ × 20 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
North Wales; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
455 as 'View near Bromley'; '1801 or 1802'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2002


Possibly Sir Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough (1760–1838) and Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837); ... Dr Collwen Thompson; his sale, Sheffield, 23 June 1876, unknown lot; ... Richard G. Briscoe (1893–1957); then by descent to Michael Guy Molesworth Bevan (d.1992) of Longstowe Hall; Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1994; Spink-Leger Pictures, 1998

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1953a, no.71 as ’Near Bromley’; Agnew’s, 1994, no.36 as ’View near Bromley’; Spink-Leger, London, 1998, no.17 as ’Extensive View, formerly Near Bromley’; Spink-Leger, London, 2000, no.24 as ’An Extensive View in the North with Distant Hills Beyond’; London, 2002, no.123


Mayne, 1949, pl.2 as 'Near Bromley, Kent'; Bauer, 1998, p.73

About this Work

This unidentified landscape was titled ‘View near Bromley’ by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, who thought that it was ‘probably made for Girtin’s patron, Sir Charles Long, who lived in the neighbourhood’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.196). However, they provided no evidence that the work was ever in the collection of Sir Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough (1760–1838) and his wife Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837), one of Girtin’s most talented pupils, and the suggestion that the landscape shows Bromley in Kent otherwise appears to be groundless. More recently, it has been proposed that the work was ‘derived from Girtin’s northern tour’ and it went under the title ‘An Extensive View in the North’ (Exhibitions: Spink-Leger, London, 2000, no.24), whilst at an earlier date Paul Oppé (1878–1957) argued that it is an imaginary ‘composition’ (Girtin Archive, 27). The latter option would be uncharacteristic of the artist’s practice, but it might explain the anomaly of a ford that is rendered superfluous by the abrupt termination of the body of water in the foreground, which is not, it seems, a river. This in itself does not mean that the work was not based on an on-the-spot sketch, however. On the basis of its similarity to A View of Hills and a River (TG1336), which may show a scene in North Wales, I have concentrated my efforts to identify Girtin’s location on areas he visited in 1798. So far, the most promising lead is the Vale of Clwyd, which appears in the background of an on-the-spot colour sketch of Denbigh Castle (TG1337), and Paul Joyner has confirmed that the ford in the foreground here might be on the river Clywedog, near Llanynys, and that we are therefore looking east with the Clwyd Hills in the distance (Smith, 2002b, p.159). The fertile valley depicted in the work does indeed fit the descriptions of many tourists who, after experiencing the privations as well as the grandeur of the mountains in North Wales, praised the contrasting charms of the Clwyd countryside. According to Joseph Hucks (1772–1800), the vale ‘appeared like a moving picture’; ‘Hamlets, villages, towns, and castles’, he enthused, ‘rose like enchantment upon this rich carpet, that seemed covered with wood and enclosures’ (Hucks, 1795, p.38). This is not enough to clinch the identification, of course, but it does suggest that we might be on the right lines.

(?) 1798

A View of Hills and a River, Probably in North Wales


(?) 1798

Denbigh Castle and the Vale of Clwyd


by Greg Smith

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