For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

An Unidentified Valley, Probably in North Wales

1798 - 1799


Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Unidentified Valley, Probably in North Wales
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
27.9 × 38.1 cm, 11 × 15 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
North Wales; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
325 as 'Valley in North Wales (probably)'; '1799'
Description Source(s)
Girtin and Loshak, 1954


Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815); then by descent


Deuchar, 1984, p.79

About this Work

It has not been possible to identify this valley scene, though, as Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak argue, it is probably in North Wales, which would mean that the watercolour stemmed from Girtin’s 1798 trip. The scene bears some resemblance to the Vale of Clwyd, as depicted in a number of Girtin’s finished watercolours from around 1799 (such as TG1337), but further research is needed to pin down the location with any degree of certainty.

As with the similarly sized view of Rhuddlan Castle (TG1302), this work comes from the collection of Samuel Whitbread (1764–1815) and has remained at the family home of Southill Park since he owned it. The watercolour was first recorded in an inventory made in 1816 after Whitbread’s death, as one of two ‘Landscapes … in gilt frames Glazed’, and, possibly uniquely for Girtin’s works, it seems to have remained in the same frame ever since (Bedfordshire Archives (130 Southill)). The fact that the work has stayed in the same collection for more than two hundred years does not mean that it was commissioned from Girtin, however. Instead, it seems that both of the Welsh views owned by Whitbread came via Girtin’s representative, the artist and engraver Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who worked for Whitbread and was the recipient of his support when he was suffering from financial problems. Indeed it was to Whitbread, through an intermediary, that Reynolds outlined in October 1801 the extent of the stock of works by Girtin that he owned, which he hoped to sell to pay his debts (Reynolds, Letter, 1801).1 The Welsh views owned by Whitbread, at about 28 × 38 cm (11 × 15 in), conform to the ‘smaller size’ that Reynolds valued at ‘£4. 4. each’, and, though not documented, it is likely that they were acquired in return for underwriting Reynolds’ debts, rather than stemming from any direct contact with Girtin. Whitbread, in this case, was therefore a collector rather than a patron of Girtin.

(?) 1798

Denbigh Castle and the Vale of Clwyd



Rhuddlan Castle, from the River Clwyd


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 The details are contained in a letter to Sawrey Gilpin (1733–1807). The letter is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1801 – Item 4).

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.