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

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1694: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck, 1800–01, graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper, 36.6 × 30.3 cm, 14 ⅜ × 11 ⅞ in. Private Collection, Norfolk (I-E-30).

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hollow (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper
36.6 × 30.3 cm, 14 ⅜ × 11 ⅞ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
River Scenery; The Village; Yorkshire View

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1508a)
Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1693)
Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1695)
Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1696)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
392iv as 'Hawes, Yorkshire'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and April 2022


J. Palser & Sons (stock no.10477); Sir Hickman Bacon (1855–1945); then by descent

Exhibition History

London, 1946, no.86 as ’Barnard Castle Bridge’; Boston, 1948, no.126; London, 2002, no.82 as ’Cottages at Hawes, from the River Ure, Yorkshire’ (incorrectly described as on the other side of The Tithe Barn at Abbotsbury, TG1699)


Described in the Tax-Exempt Heritage Assets list as by 'Thomas Girtin or Follower'

About this Work

The attribution to Girtin of this view of the village of Hawes in Wensleydale has been questioned, and given its very faded state this is not surprising. A broken sky of blue with a subtle range of greys for the clouds, together with their reflections in the beck, has almost completely been lost, as have the greens of the vegetation, leaving little more than a lifeless monochrome drawing behind. However, the paper historian Peter Bower has identified the support used as an off-white laid wrapping paper by an unknown English maker that came from the same source that Girtin used for A Mill in Essex (TG1416), Barns and a Pond, Said to Be Near Bromley (TG1419) and A Distant View of Guisborough Priory (TG1699) (Smith, 2002b, p.108; Bower, Report). This provides good evidence that this drawing is therefore one of two replicas (the other being TG1695) that Girtin produced from a less faded watercolour of Hawes that is dated 1800 (TG1693). All three watercolours are based on a pencil sketch that was probably made on Girtin’s trip to Yorkshire in 1799 (TG1508a), though it was only a fourth and final version (TG1696), dated 1801, that followed the original drawing’s horizontal format. Girtin’s visit to Hawes was presumably undertaken during his stay at Harewood House, the home of his patron Edward Lascelles (1764–1814). None of the watercolours appear to have been commissioned, however, and they were certainly not owned by Lascelles; it seems, instead, that each was produced in response to sales on the open market. The popularity of the subject presumably meant that Girtin felt no need to change the focus of attention on the old packhorse bridge in the centre, with what appears to be a waterfall joining from the right and emptying into the river. But, as David Hill has shown in his catalogue of Girtin’s northern subjects, the artificial watercourse that fed the village’s mills is shown broken, with water temporarily tumbling back into the beck, and so, given that the original sketch includes this feature, it appears that the watercolours depict an actual event. As Hill has again noted, there were major floods in Yorkshire in 1799 and a number of Girtin’s watercolours from the following year ‘recorded the damage being repaired’, including Harewood Bridge (TG1551) and Wetherby Bridge and Mills (TG1642). The views of Hawes likewise show the effects of what must have been a harmful incident for the village’s economy (Hill, 1999, p.42).

Such an occurrence, however topical, is unlikely to account, on its own, for the success of Girtin’s composition, even though it added interest to a fairly standard picturesque mix of water, vernacular buildings and bridge. Judging the subject’s attractiveness as a commodity is made considerably more difficult by the fact that all of the watercolours have faded, though arguably enough remains of the 1800 version to suggest that there was something in its original appearance that evoked a powerful set of associations, perhaps equivalent to the note of transient hope seen in Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea, the so-called White House at Chelsea (TG1740). Perhaps the development in the composition from sketch to watercolour, to include large areas of sky and water, provided the opportunity for the artist to create an evanescent effect that attracted sales but that we can only guess at today, when the solid realm of stone predominates.



(?) 1799

A Mill in Essex


1799 - 1800

Barns and a Pond, Said to Be near Bromley


1800 - 1801

A Distant View of Guisborough Priory; The Tithe Barn, Abbotsbury


1800 - 1801

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck



Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck


1799 - 1800

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck



Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck


1800 - 1801

Harewood Bridge


(?) 1800

Wetherby Bridge and Mills, Looking across the Weir



Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea (The White House, Chelsea)


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.