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Works Thomas Girtin

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1695: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck, 1800–01, graphite, watercolour and scratching out on paper, 35.6 × 30.5 cm, 14 × 12 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and scratching out on paper
35.6 × 30.5 cm, 14 × 12 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 (TG1694)
Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1696)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
392iii as 'Hawes, Yorkshire'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Fine Art Society, London; bought by Prof. Geoffrey Emett Blackman (1903–80); Christie's, 4 June 1974, lot 183 as 'Hawes Bridge'; bought by 'Behrens', 1,500 gns; St Cross College, Oxford; their sale, Sotheby’s, 19 March 1981, lot 127 as 'Cottages at Hawes from the River Ure, Yorkshire', unsold

Exhibition History

Fine Art Society, 1945, no.31 as ’Near Dolgelly’

About this Work

This work is known only as a black and white photograph, but there is nothing to suggest that what appears to be a faded watercolour is substantially different from another replica (TG1694) of Girtin’s view of the village at Hawes from 1800 (TG1693). The former copy can be shown to be on a coarse wrapping paper that Girtin customarily employed (Smith, 2002b, p.108; Bower, Report), and, though there is no equivalent evidence to confirm the attribution of this work, the rather less scientific exercise of overlaying images of all three watercolours at least suggests that there is no reason not to believe that this too is a full-scale replica by the artist himself. All three watercolours were based on a pencil sketch that was probably made on Girtin’s trip to Yorkshire in 1799 (TG1508a), as was a final version dated 1801, which follows the horizontal format of the original sketch more closely (TG1696). 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 views of Hawes 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, and only the latest version departs from the basic composition. The popularity of the subject presumably meant that Girtin felt no need to change the focus of attention from 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.

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

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