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

Box Hill

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1423: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Box Hill, (?) 1796, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 22.8 × 30.3 cm, 9 × 11 ⅞ in. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (P.29-1934).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Box Hill
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
22.8 × 30.3 cm, 9 × 11 ⅞ in

'Girtin' on the back

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Surrey View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in April 2022


Edith Mary Burke Powell (Lady Powell, née Wood) (d.1934); bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


V&A, 1935, p.24; Wilton, 1979, p.317 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; Lambourne and Hamilton, 1980, p.386 as 'Landscape with Wooded Hill, Possibly Box Hill, Surrey', 'attributed to' Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

This view of Box Hill in Surrey is inscribed on the back with Girtin’s name and it was attributed to the artist until the publication by Andrew Wilton of his The Life and Work of J. M. W. Turner (Wilton, 1979, no.163, p.317). The new attribution to Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) has not been universally accepted, however, and the production of this online catalogue has provided the perfect opportunity to check the status of the work in the light of my initial thought that whilst the drawing seems very unlikely to be by Turner, the stylistic evidence does not point overwhelmingly to Girtin either. The problem is less to do with the pencil work, which does indeed bear some resemblance to Girtin’s hand, and more to do with the fact that the colouring is uncharacteristic of his style on a number of counts. In the first instance, although the palette is not unlike that of Girtin around 1795, overall the drawing is overworked and the colours rather muddied. Likewise, the foliage in the foreground, which frames the view in a conventional way that Girtin generally avoided, is also problematic, resembling more the work of a young Peter De Wint (1784–1849). It is perhaps telling that at least one of that artist’s early works, Lincoln Cathedral, Viewed from Below (TG1013), has been misattributed to Girtin in the past, though I am not sure whether that is quite sufficient grounds to be certain about the authorship of this watercolour.

Box Hill, Surrey

 Similar doubts about the identity of the subject depicted are, however, without foundation, as numerous views of the Surrey landscape at Box Hill attest, including a sketch that appeared on the art market in 2009 (Woolley & Wallis, 6 March 2009, lot 98) attributed to Turner himself (see figure 1). Although there are some differences in the disposition of the foliage, the composition is close enough to confirm the subject of this watercolour. The attribution of the work to Turner may well be correct, and certainly there is no evidence of Girtin’s involvement in that work’s depiction of a subject that was popular amongst the artists who frequented the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Indeed, Monro’s posthumous sale included a work by Girtin that was titled ‘Boxhill’, one of three Surrey views probably bought by a local landowner, William Lock II (1767–1847) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lot 114). As yet, none of these have been identified, all of which makes the fact that this work also does not seem right all the more frustrating.

(?) 1810

Lincoln Cathedral, Viewed from Below


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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.