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Works Thomas Girtin

Effingham Church

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG0345: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Effingham Church, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 29.2 × 43.8 cm, 11 ½ × 17 ¼ in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1953P224).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Effingham Church
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
29.2 × 43.8 cm, 11 ½ × 17 ¼ in

‘Effingham Church, Surrey’ on the back, hitherto misread as 'Stellingham'

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Surrey View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
246 as 'Called Stellingham Church'; '1797–8'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 1 July 1833, lot 116 as 'Two views of Effingham church'; bought by 'Maine', £13 13s; ... V. Newman; his sale, Christie's, 3 March 1939, lot 35 as 'Effingham Church, Surrey'; bought by the Squire Gallery, London, £42; Sir Thomas Barlow (1845–1945); his sale, Sotheby's, 28 June 1944, lot 25 as 'Stellingham Church'; bought by P & D Colnaghi & Co., £60; James Leslie Wright (1862–1954); presented to the Museum, 1953

Exhibition History

London, 1949, no.192 as 'Stelingham Church'


Rose, 1980, p.57 as 'Stelingham Church'

About this Work

This view of the church of St Lawrence in Effingham in Surrey, seen from the east, has in recent years been wrongly titled ‘Stellingham Church’ on the basis of a misreading of an inscription on the back of the drawing. However, although the church has been much restored, Girtin’s watercolour is still recognisable as Effingham and can therefore be linked with some degree of confidence with a lot described as 'Two views of Effingham church' that was sold at the posthumous sale of the artist’s early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lot 116). Effingham is just a few kilometres west of Fetcham, where Monro rented a cottage between the years 1795 and 1805 (see TG0857 figure 2), and it is likely that Girtin joined his patron there to make sketches in the area. John Linnell (1792–1882), who knew Monro at a slightly later date, claimed that the patron took Girtin, as well as his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), ‘out to one or other of his country houses or elsewhere to sketch for him from Nature’ (Story, 1892, vol.1, p.41), and the catalogue of his posthumous sale lists a number of other Surrey scenes by Girtin, including views of the nearby Box Hill and Norbury Park, as well as Capel Church (TG0857) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lots 112, 114, 116 and 119). Thus, in addition to the hundreds of copies of outlines by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that Girtin realised as watercolours with Turner, as well as the larger architectural subjects that he depicted for Monro, such as Durham Cathedral, from the South West (TG0919), the patron also acquired a group of local topographical scenes that had a more personal resonance. As many as four of the churches that Girtin painted from sketches made in the vicinity of Fetcham have been identified (including TG0857 and TG0858), making for a coherent group of Surrey subjects, though neither the view of Box Hill nor the one of Norbury Park has yet been traced (Piggott, 1994, pp.8–10). I suspect that they may yet be discovered amongst one of the many watercolours with those titles that are currently attributed to Turner.

Recent research has revealed that Girtin painted a second view of the church of St Lawrence in Effingham (TG1447) showing the south transept seen to the left in this work. This has hitherto been catalogued as A Country Churchyard and the catalogue entry has consequently been extensively revised. It is likely, therefore, that this watercolour was the second of the 'views of Effingham church' sold from Monro's collection in 1833.

1797 - 1798

Capel Church


1796 - 1797

Durham Cathedral, from the South West


1797 - 1798

Capel Church


1796 - 1797

Great Bookham Church


1798 - 1799

A Country Churchyard


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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