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Works Thomas Girtin

Cottages on a Hill

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1781: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Cottages on a Hill, 1800–01, watercolour on laid paper, 20.8 × 40.9 cm, 8 ³⁄₁₆ × 16 ⅛ in. The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge (PD.17-1953).

Photo courtesy of The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Cottages on a Hill
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Watercolour on laid paper
20.8 × 40.9 cm, 8 ³⁄₁₆ × 16 ⅛ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
217 as 'Cottages on the Brow of a Hill'; 'c. 1797'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


J. Palser & Sons; bought by Sir Edward Marsh (1872–1953), 1901; bequeathed through the National Art-Collections Fund (The Art Fund), 1953


Marsh, 1939, p.353; Hassall, 1959, p.109; Morris, 1987a, p.60, p.69

About this Work

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak dated this view of cottages on a hill to 1798 and described it as a ‘sepia’ study (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.163). However, although the work’s very poor condition makes this difficult to confirm, I suspect that it is simply very faded and that, whilst it was probably never very highly coloured, there was originally a sky as well as substantial areas of vegetation that were once green. I also think that the work dates from rather later than 1798 as the closest comparisons that can be found are amongst the small sketches of picturesque cottages and farms that Girtin produced in the last years of his life. These include another group of cottages viewed from a similarly unconventional angle (TG1785), which perhaps gives us some idea of the original, pre-faded appearance of the work. Some of these later sketches of rural scenery, all of which are presumably studio works, are based on scenes the artist observed in Essex, but others are from the imagination, and this was probably the case here, in what is a highly unusual example of the use of a panoramic format for a picturesque subject.

(?) 1802

Cottages on a Hill


by Greg Smith

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