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Works Thomas Girtin and Thomas Kirk after Edward Dayes

'Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650': Officer and Sergeant


Primary Image: TG0062: Thomas Kirk (1765–97), etching, after Edward Dayes (1763–1804), hand-coloured by Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), 'Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650': Officer and Sergeant, 1792, 32.2 × 37.5 cm, 12 ⅝ × 14 ¾ in. British Museum, London (1859,0709.118).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Thomas Kirk (1765-1797) after Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • 'Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650': Officer and Sergeant
Medium and Support
Watercolour over etching on paper
32.2 × 37.5 cm, 12 ⅝ × 14 ¾ in

'Drawn by E.Dayes Draughtsman to HRH the Duke of York / Engraved by T.Kirk / Published Feb 1 1792 by Capt. Hewgill of the Coldsream Regt of Guards, & Sold by John & Josiah Boydell, Cheapside, & at the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall'

Object Type
Hand-coloured Print
Subject Terms
Figure Study

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Bought by the Museum from A. E. Evans & Sons, 1859


Smith, 2002b, p.44

About this Work

The hand-colouring of prints such as Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650: Officer and Sergeant was one of the tasks assigned to the young Girtin as an apprentice in the studio of Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and the menial nature of the work was said to be one of the causes of the breakdown in relations between the artist and his master (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.24–25). The task is by its nature anonymous, but the attribution of the colouring of a number of impressions of a series of nine prints of military uniforms to Girtin on stylistic grounds is plausible, especially as Dayes was the author of the original drawings (sold at Sotheby’s, 29 June 1987, lot 315). Dayes’ Foot Guards and Line, comprising nine plates, each with two figures, was produced to meet the patriotic market stimulated by the onset of war with France and was published by ‘Capt. Hewgill of the Coldstream Regt of Guards’ in February 1792 (identifiable as Edwin Hewgill (c.1761–1809)). The series shows six figures each from three regiments: the First Regiment of Foot Guards, the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards and the Third Regiment of Foot Guards. Dayes’ watercolours were reproduced as simple outline etchings with stipple for the faces by Thomas Kirk (1765–97), and these etchings were then transformed by the hand-colouring. The process of tinting was particularly important for this publication, since to save labour the nine plates repeat three identical compositions, and it is only the colour that differentiates the uniforms of the regiments. Girtin also had the responsibility of colouring the three basic landscape settings in order to create variety within an otherwise very restricted format. Hewgill published more hand-coloured prints by Dayes of soldiers from a variety of other regiments at the end of 1792 and again in December 1793, and impressions of these are also in the collection of the British Museum. However, the quality of the application of colour is notably lower, particularly in the landscapes, and Girtin’s involvement in the production of Dayes’ prints seems to have been restricted to the first set of nine catalogued here.

Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650

Figure 1.
Thomas Kirk (1765–97), etching, after Edward Dayes (1763–1804), (?) hand-coloured by Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards, 1650, 1 February 1792, 46.8 × 58.1 cm, 18 ⅜ × 22 ⅞ in. Brown University Library, Providence, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection.

Digital image courtesy of Brown Digital Repository (Public Domain).

Another hand-coloured impression of this print (see figure 1) creates a less forceful effect. This was also apparently coloured by Girtin and is therefore a useful indicator of the variable quality that no doubt crept in when a talented young artist was entrusted with the most humble of tasks, colouring many hundreds of prints in turn.

by Greg Smith

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