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 Sir George Howland Beaumont


1799 - 1800

Primary Image: TG1585: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Sir George Howland Beaumont (1753–1827), Derwentwater, 1799–1800, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 24 × 31 cm, 9 ½ × 12 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F03343-0007 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Sir George Howland Beaumont (1753-1827)
  • Derwentwater
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
24 × 31 cm, 9 ½ × 12 ¼ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Lake Scenery; The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
316 as 'c. 1799'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue; Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive


Sir George Howland Beaumont, 7th Baronet (1753–1827); then by descent to Sir George Howland Francis Beaumont, 12th Baronet (1924–2011), 1949; David Eccles, 1st Viscount Eccles (1904–99); P & D Colnaghi & Co Ltd, 1979; Christie’s, 15 June 1982, lot 39, £2,376; Christie's, 15 November 1983, lot 167, £1,188

Exhibition History

London, 1963b, no.39; Colnaghi’s, 1979, no.57


Herrmann and Owen, 1973, p.47

About this Work


This very faded watercolour showing the east shore of Derwentwater, with the Lodore Falls half way along and Borrowdale in the centre, is one of eight watercolours of various sizes that Girtin produced for the well-known collector Sir George Howland Beaumont, 7th Baronet (1753–1827) from the amateur’s own on-the-spot monochrome sketches. Seven of them show scenes in the Lake District, which helped to persuade some earlier writers to erroneously conclude that Girtin himself had visited the popular tourist destination, though in fact they are all copied from sketches made by Beaumont in the summer of 1798. In this case it has not been possible to locate the Beaumont source used by Girtin, though it was once contained in an album of sketches in the family home at Coleorton Hall in Leicestershire. However, it is unlikely to be very different from another view of Derwentwater that was taken from nearby on the same trip (see figure 1). As in this case, all of the watercolours are considerably larger than the models on which they are based, and they are further united by the fact that, whilst they employ a broader palette than Beaumont’s on-the-spot drawings, they do not significantly depart from the sketch aesthetic of their sources. 

This latter point is worth stressing because it helps to substantiate the manner in which the significance of Beaumont’s role in Girtin’s career has been inflated. The eight sketch-like watercolours commissioned by Beaumont around 1799–1800, though they clearly mark an advance on the amateur’s efforts in terms of spatial veracity and compositional clarity, are collectively the result of no more than a few days’ labour at the most, and they required little imaginative or technical input from the artist. Furthermore, Beaumont’s importance for Girtin’s career has been exaggerated by the persistent myth that the patron owned as many as ‘thirty drawings in water-colours by Girtin’ and that he ‘advised’ his young protégé, John Constable (1776–1837), to ‘study’ them ‘as examples of great breadth and truth’ (Fleming-Williams, 1990, p.77, quoting Leslie, 1845, p.6). The latter part of the statement may indeed be true, but the figure of thirty was almost certainly made up of the eight works discussed here plus the set of twenty Paris aquatints that Beaumont is now known to have acquired in 1803 – that, is after the artist’s death (Smith, 2017–18, p.34, n.63).1 Far from being the result of Beaumont’s generous patronage, it strikes me that what we might be looking at in this case, as with the other seven watercolour ‘sketches’, is the outcome of a lesson conducted by the professional artist using the amateur’s drawing as the basis of a demonstration of the principles of ‘breadth and truth’. Whether or not the drawing was literally conceived as a lesson, I am sure that it was created in the patron’s home and that Girtin’s practice therefore briefly reverted to something like his earlier employment by other, albeit less talented, amateurs, including Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and James Moore (1762–99). 

by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 A list of subscribers is included in John Girtin’s account of the income he received from the Picturesque Views in Paris, together with the expenses incurred in completing the project. They are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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.