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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Cadair Idris, from the Estuary near Barmouth

1799 - 1800


(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Cadair Idris, from the Estuary near Barmouth
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
50.8 × 86.4 cm, 20 × 34 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Lake Scenery; North Wales

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Girtin Archive


Dr Jackman; Christie’s, 7 May 1900, lot 91; bought by 'Clive', £3 13s 6d; John Bailey of Wymondham, Norfolk, 1950s (Girtin Archive)

About this Work

Although this work was known to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), he did not include it in the catalogue of Girtin’s watercolours that he compiled with David Loshak (Girtin and Loshak, 1954). In an extensive correspondence with Paul Oppé (1878–1957), now split between the Girtin Archive (27) in the British Museum and the Oppé Archive in the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the two collectors discussed the attribution of the work to Girtin and the counter theory that it was produced by the young John Sell Cotman (1782–1842). The drawing, which was described by Oppé as very faded, does not seem to have been photographed, and, since it has not been seen in public for over a century, it is not possible to comment on the final conclusion of the two earlier connoisseurs that the work was probably not by Girtin. If Girtin’s authorship was confirmed, however, the view of Cadair Idris from the estuary near Barmouth would be one of the largest outcomes of the artist’s 1798 Welsh tour, though the price that the work achieved in 1900 – £3 13s 6d – would suggest that this is unlikely to be the case.

Coast Scene and Mountains

What appears to be a similar view, titled Coastal View and Mountains, has also been attributed to Girtin in the past, though it too was not included in Girtin and Loshak’s catalogue (see figure 1). The work was sold in 1882 as ‘A Rocky Bay Scene, with figures’ with an attribution to John Henderson (1764–1843) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 16 February 1882, lot 135), and Thomas Girtin (the artist’s descendant) interpreted this to mean that it had been produced by the patron, working from a sketch by his protégé (Girtin Archive, 27). There is no evidence to back this up, however, and it is also far from clear that the work shows a Welsh scene, but the attribution to Henderson does seem to make sense as the artist clearly has some knowledge of Girtin's working practise. This is particularly clear in the foreground where the bold use of black recalls later works such as Girtin's Lagoon Capriccio (TG0904) though the comparison is not helped by the excessively hot colouration of the image.

1799 - 1800

A Lagoon Capriccio


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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