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 after (?) Edward Dayes

Chichester Cathedral, from the South West

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0370: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Chichester Cathedral, from the South West, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card), 7.7 × 12.1 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIX 7 (D36633).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Chichester Cathedral, from the South West
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card)
7.7 × 12.1 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 81 or 82 as 'Views and ruins, in colours, on cards 10' by 'Turner'; bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £8 18s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.817b


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1242 as 'Chichester Cathedral' by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

This informal sketch-like view of Chichester Cathedral from the south west is one of twenty or so watercolours on cards bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of his and Girtin’s patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 81 and 82). They now form part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain, where the majority of them are attributed to Girtin. The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were mainly executed around 1795–96 after a set of outline drawings of antiquarian subjects which Girtin copied from the sketches of his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). The outline drawing used by Girtin as the basis for the watercolour is not amongst the forty or so examples also in the Turner Bequest, though it may have been the untraced pencil sketch of Chichester Cathedral that was sold as by Turner in 1922 and again in 1935 (Exhibitions: Sotheby’s, 28 November 1922, lot 140; Sotheby’s, 4 April 1935, lot 118). Moore toured widely in Sussex and produced numerous sketches, many of which Girtin worked up as watercolours, but no Chichester subjects have been identified and, indeed, it is not clear that he ever actually depicted the cathedral. It may therefore be that Girtin turned to his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), for the source for his drawing; certainly he did not visit the west Sussex coast himself. A large watercolour by Dayes of a similar view of the cathedral from the south west is known (sold at Sotheby’s, 22 March 1979, lot 93), but if one of his compositions was the model it would in all probability have been in the form of a small outline drawing or monochrome sketch. Monro’s collection contained more than a hundred ‘Coloured sketches of antiquities and buildings’ by Dayes (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lots 36–40), from which Girtin might have made an outline drawing. That drawing, in turn, could have formed the basis of this watercolour, and this process no doubt took place at the patron’s house at the Adelphi in London.

It is possible that Monro may have had a publication in mind when he commissioned Girtin to produce small-scale watercolours such as this, but their rapid, even careless execution and sketch-like appearance, suggesting that the work was made on the spot, indicate an altogether different kind of commodity. Indeed, the subjects that were chosen for this informal sketch-like treatment do not follow any obvious pattern, either by geography or building type, that might have made for a thematically unified publication. It may be that there is nothing that unites the group other than that Girtin’s outlines after the sketches of Moore and Dayes provided a ready resource from which sketch-like watercolours might be rapidly produced.

The paper is discoloured as a result of excessive exposure to light whilst on long-term exhibition. The differently toned areas (top, left and right) were protected by an earlier mount.

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.