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Works Thomas Girtin

Dryburgh Abbey

(?) 1796


Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Dryburgh Abbey
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
20.3 × 14 cm, 8 × 5 ½ in

‘Dryborough Abbey T. Girtin’ on the back, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; The Scottish Borders

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
168 as 'Dryburgh Abbey, Berwick'
Description Source(s)
Girtin and Loshak, 1954


Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 16 May 1881, lot 392 (9 pencils in lot); J. Palser & Sons; Edward Cohen (1816–87); then by bequest to his niece, Isabella Oswald (1838–1905); her posthumous sale, Robins & Hine, 30 March 1905, lot unknown; Henry Melville Gaskell (1879–1954), by 1929

About this Work

This pencil sketch of the west wall of the refectory of Dryburgh Abbey, in the Scottish Borders, was probably made in 1796 on Girtin’s first independent sketching tour. Only one of the twenty or so pencil drawings and on-the-spot colour sketches that survive from the trip is dated, but it is still broadly possible to trace Girtin’s progress through Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders from the titles of the works that he sent to the 1797 Royal Academy exhibition, and from the dated watercolours that were subsequently produced from these and other untraced sketches. Unusually for Girtin, this sketch does not seem to have been the subject of a finished studio watercolour, but at least two views of the ruined south transept of Dryburgh appear, from stylistic evidence, to have been painted around 1798 (TG1120 and TG1121). It is likely that the pencil sketch was made in 1796, rather than on a later visit to the site in 1800, which resulted in a more distant view of the ruins (TG1719).

In general, Girtin did not use a sketchbook, choosing instead to work on pieces of paper of varying sizes, cut down from the larger sheets that he would have bought from a stationer in London. Of the twenty or so sketches so far identified as coming from the 1796 tour, only this drawing and a view of Dunstanburgh roughly share the same dimensions (TG1100). Both are inscribed by Girtin with his name and the subject in the same format on the back, suggesting that he subsequently sold them, though whether they were removed from a sketchbook is more questionable.

1797 - 1798

Dryburgh Abbey: The South Transept Looking North


1797 - 1799

Dryburgh Abbey: The South Transept from the Cloister


1800 - 1801

A Distant View of Dryburgh Abbey, with the Eildon Hills Beyond


(?) 1796

Dunstanburgh Castle, Viewed from a Distance


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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