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Works François Louis Thomas Francia

Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, near Southampton

(?) 1804

Primary Image: TG1237: François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839), Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, near Southampton, (?) 1804, watercolour on paper, 8.9 × 25.4 cm, 3 ½ × 10 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Agnew's (All Rights Reserved)

François Louis Thomas Francia (1772-1839)
  • Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, near Southampton
(?) 1804
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
8.9 × 25.4 cm, 3 ½ × 10 in

‘Bursledon Ferry Friday 29th July' on the back, by François Louis Thomas Francia

Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
Hampshire View; Panoramic Format; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue


Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1980 (stock no.6627)

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1980, no.8 as ’Bursledon Ferry, near Southampton’ by Thomas Girtin; Anthony Reed, London, 1985, no.6 as by François Louis Thomas Francia

About this Work

Bursledon Ferry on the Hamble near Southampton

This panoramic watercolour showing the chain ferry used to cross the river Hamble at Bursledon, near Southampton, was attributed to Girtin when it was shown at an exhibition in 1980 (Exhibitions: Agnew’s, 1980, no.8). However, a few years later the dealer Anthony Reed (d.2020) reattributed the drawing to Girtin’s colleague François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839), citing the evidence of the finished studio watercolour that was made from this sketch, which is dated 1804 (see figure 1) – that is, two years after Girtin’s death (Exhibitions: Anthony Reed, London, 1985, no.6). There is no question about the attribution, therefore, though the watercolour is still of some interest to students of Girtin’s work because it apparently shares the same subject as an untraced view that also shows the river Hamble (TG1238), and this may have influenced Francia, both in the choice of his subject and in the adoption of an extended, panoramic composition.

Basingstoke Canal

Another similarly open panoramic river view, which is said to show Basingstoke Canal (see figure 2), has also been attributed to Girtin. The watercolour, which featured in the distinguished collections of Sir Thomas Barlow (1845–1945) and Sir William Worsley (1890–1973), is known only from an old black and white photograph. However, it too appears to be by Francia, and, as with Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, it was not included by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak in their catalogue of Girtin’s work (Girtin and Loshak, 1954).

Kite Hill, from Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight

Another even more speculative attribution to Girtin has passed through the sales rooms on a number of occasions: Kite Hill from Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight (see figure 3). Again, the use of the panoramic format for a river landscape appears to have been the sole link to Girtin’s work, and not surprisingly the artist’s descendant, Tom Girtin (1913–94), noted that although ‘Quite pretty’, it had ‘nothing to do with Girtin’ (Girtin Archive, 40A).

1797 - 1798

The Hamble River, near Southampton


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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