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

Caernarfon: A Street Scene with Plas Mawr

(?) 1798

Primary Image: TG1313: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Caernarfon: A Street Scene with Plas Mawr, (?) 1798, graphite on laid paper (watermark: horn in escutcheon; GR), 18.4 × 23.5 cm, 7 ¼ × 9 ¼ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXVII, 40 (D36611).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Caernarfon: A Street Scene with Plas Mawr
(?) 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper (watermark: horn in escutcheon; GR)
18.4 × 23.5 cm, 7 ¼ × 9 ¼ in

‘House at Caernarvon’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
North Wales; The Country Town

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
265 as 'House at Caernarvon'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1240 as 'House at Caernarvon'; Tate Online as 'A Street in Conway, with Plas Mawr' (Accessed 16/09/2022)

About this Work

Plas Mawr, Caernarfon

This sketch of a street scene in Caernarfon, with the now demolished Elizabethan town house of Plas Mawr (The Great House) and the castle in the distance, was drawn by Girtin on his tour of North Wales in the summer of 1798. The building has been incorrectly identified as showing the similarly named house in Conwy, but Girtin’s inscription on the back, which reads ‘House at Caernarvon’, is correct, and the subject’s identity can be confirmed by a number of depictions of the picturesque building that were made at roughly the same time, including a comparable watercolour by John Buckler (1770–1851) (see figure 1).

As with another view of Caernarfon, showing the castle looking west to the Queen’s Tower (TG1308), this drawing was bought at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) by Girtin’s contemporary and collaborator Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), and it is now part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. Other outline drawings that came from Monro’s collection, including the Caernarfon views and The Market Square at Aylesbury (TG0369a), all of which postdate the co-commissions with Turner, suggest that the patron continued to acquire Girtin’s drawings, and, specifically, examples of the pencil sketches that he produced on his tours. These, I suspect, were bought as much as examples of the artist’s skill as a draughtsman as for their picturesque and antiquarian subjects.

(?) 1798

Caernarfon Castle, from the East


1798 - 1799

The Market Square at Aylesbury


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.