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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

An Upland Landscape with a Rainbow, Said to Be Lowther Fells

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0160: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), An Upland Landscape with a Rainbow, Said to Be Lowther Fells, 1795–96, watercolour on paper, 22 × 29 cm, 8 ⅝ × 11 ⅜ in. Kendal Town Hall.

Photo courtesy of Kendal Town Council (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • An Upland Landscape with a Rainbow, Said to Be Lowther Fells
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
22 × 29 cm, 8 ⅝ × 11 ⅜ in

‘Roberts drawing lot 125 May 7th’ on the back

Object Type
Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Colour Photograph


Thos. Agnew & Sons; Jane Leech (1806–84); then by descent to Beatrix Potter (1866–1943) (Mrs Heelis); bequeathed by her to Kendal Borough Council, 1946


Wilton, 2006, p.59, p.149; Alderson, 2007, p.14

About this Work

This fine watercolour, once attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), presents a number of problems that centre around the identification of the subject as Lowther Fells in Cumberland, an area that, despite the arguments of Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, we now know Girtin did not visit (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.41–42). This did not stop Girtin producing watercolours of a number of views in the Lake District very early in his career, however, when he copied the compositions of his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). A pair of views of Lake Windermere (TG0073 and TG0078) was produced around 1791–92 from sketches made by Dayes, who made Lake District scenery an important part of his practice, and it is possible that Girtin’s master provided the model here too. However, the sophisticated means deployed to capture a dramatic moorland scene clearly date from a later part of Girtin’s career. Whilst it is possible that another artist – such as the amateur Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827), whose sketches formed the basis of seven of Girtin’s Lake District scenes, including Borrowdale (TG1582) and Colwith Force (TG1583) – was involved, it may be that it is the identification of the scene as Lowther Fells that needs to be looked at again. Indeed, there is no specific feature in the mountainous landscape seen here that might pin the location to Lowther, or indeed to the north west of England, as opposed to North Wales, say, and it is not even out of the question that the watercolour is an imaginary composition.

Girtin also produced a number of Lake District views at a later date at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Working in collaboration with Turner, Girtin created several hundred copies of the sketches of a number of artists, amateur and professional, primarily John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but also some Lake District views by Dayes, including Legburthwaite Vale (TG0361), which was made by Girtin alone. Although no Dayes prototype has been discovered, on balance a later Monro School origin for the work seems plausible, even if it displays a dramatic exuberance that is untypical of the frankly prosaic nature of the drawings produced for Monro. In this case, therefore, I cannot accept the opinion of Andrew Wilton who introduced me to the watercolour under consideration here in 2000. His date of 1792 feels much too early (Wilton, 2006, p.59).

The watercolour was once owned by the writer Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), who recorded in her journal that it was much admired by the great Victorian artist John Millais (1829–96) in 1884, when it was still attributed to Turner (Alderson, 2007, p.14).

1791 - 1792

The View from the Great Boathouse, Lake Windermere


1791 - 1792

Lake Windermere and Belle Isle


1799 - 1800



1799 - 1800

Colwith Force, on the River Brathay


1795 - 1796

Legburthwaite Vale


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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