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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

An Upland Landscape, Said to Show Etal Castle


Primary Image: TG1712: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), An Upland Landscape, Said to Show Etal Castle, 1801, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 24.7 × 34.3 cm, 9 ¾ × 13 ½ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (42-1887).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Upland Landscape, Said to Show Etal Castle
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
24.7 × 34.3 cm, 9 ¾ × 13 ½ in

‘T. Girtin 1801’ lower left, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Durham and Northumberland

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


Bought by the Museum, 1887, £4 4s

Exhibition History

Bristol, 1906, no.61


V&A, 1927, p.232 as 'Landscape, with a Ruined Castle and River'; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.152 as 'Landscape, with a Ruined Castle and River ... formerly attributed to Girtin'; V&A Collections Online as by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

The title of this upland view, showing what appears to be a ruined castle surrounded by trees, comes from an annotation in a copy of the 1927 Catalogue of the Water Colour Paintings in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, that was made by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) (Girtin Archive, 41). He identified the work, which has always been known as ‘Landscape, with a Ruined Castle and River’, as showing Etal in Northumberland, presumably on the basis of a comparison with Girtin’s earlier watercolour of the location (TG1115). Although this is plausible, the visual evidence is hardly conclusive, and the comparison in any case raises questions about the work’s authenticity. The artist’s descendant did not include it in his catalogue of Girtin’s works compiled with David Loshak, perhaps on the grounds that the signature, to the left, is evidently a forgery (Girtin and Loshak, 1954). This certainly seems to be the case, though it does not necessarily follow that the drawing itself is not by Girtin, as the name and date might have been added later to an uncharacteristic work in the hope of increasing the chance of a sale. However, although I concur with the more recent catalogue of the collection of watercolours at the museum, which restates the doubts about the Girtin attribution, there is a part of me that wonders whether the work’s poor, faded condition might not have clouded our judgement (Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.152). The handling of the washes in the bulk of the composition is undoubtedly crude, but the sky is not unattractive, and perhaps if the washes of green across the bulk of the landscape had stayed in their fresh, original state, we might think differently about the work.

1796 - 1797

Etal Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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