That said, the stylised leaves, the schematised representation of the water, and the crude outlines that bound architecture and figures alike all illustrate the limitations of the fifteen-year-old artist’s work at this early date. But Dayes clearly saw enough promise in such watercolours to begin consigning his apprentice’s works to the salesrooms, and Girtin’s work appeared as early as June 1791, when lot 96 comprised two views of ‘Durham castle’ in a sale at Greenwood’s (Exhibitions: Greenwood, 10 June 1791). It may be that Girtin’s apprenticeship was already effectively over by this date and that Dayes was seeking to maximise the return on the effort he had put into teaching his student. Works such as the similarly signed and dated Eton College, from the River (TG0013) and the elegantly mounted Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057) appear to have been produced for sale in this way and suggest that Girtin was capable of producing competent and professional commodities from early in his apprenticeship. However, whether this still relatively crude view of Durham Cathedral from the river Wear would have had a commercial value is less clear.
Eton College, from the River
Rochester Castle, from the River Medway