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Works Thomas Girtin

Farm Buildings by a Pond

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1799: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Farm Buildings by a Pond, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 15.4 × 23.3 cm, 6 ⅛ × 9 ⅛ in. British Museum, London (1855,0214.32).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Farm Buildings by a Pond
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
15.4 × 23.3 cm, 6 ⅛ × 9 ⅛ in
Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
Rural Labour; Unidentified Topographical View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
421 as '1800–1'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Chambers Hall (1786–1855); presented to the Museum, 1855


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.23b

About this Work

This colour study of farm buildings by a pond at first sight appears to be related to a group of sketches of rural buildings that Girtin made towards the end of his life, including A Farm beyond a Field (TG1797). The rural subjects, including a group of fifteen drawings that appear to have come from one of the ‘little Books’ that were split up for sale by Girtin’s brother, John Girtin (1773–1821), after the artist’s death, share the same provenance with this work, also coming from the collection of Chambers Hall (1786–1855). Though this drawing does not share its dimensions with any other sketch and therefore probably does not come from a book, the subject is clearly related to the group at the British Museum. Some of these are no doubt imaginary, but others, as here, resemble the picturesque vernacular subjects collected by Girtin in Essex three or four years earlier (such as TG1757). This larger view differs from the set of depictions of rustic buildings in one important respect, however: namely, that it lacks a sky and areas in the centre of the composition have been left blank, so that not only does it appear unfinished but it might even have been coloured on the spot, in contrast to the other views, which are almost certainly studio works. The closest comparison I can think of for this is the similarly unfinished study A Farmhouse (TG1439), though it is rather larger. I have dated that sketch to 1798–99, and it may be that if Farm Buildings by a Pond is not a work of the imagination then we should be looking at something similar here, rather than the 1802 that I initially thought appropriate. If that is the case, rather than being a late work left unfinished at the artist’s death, this work is from earlier and was found in the artist’s studio at his death. The point, however, is that dating any of Girtin’s sketches for which there is no clearly identified subject almost inevitably involves an element of guesswork, and there are times when one longs for the careful inscriptions of time and place that were part of the sketching practice of many of Girtin’s contemporaries.

1801 - 1802

A Farm beyond a Field


1800 - 1801

A Farmyard with Cattle, Poultry and Labourers Unloading Hay, Possibly Pinckney’s Farm, Radwinter


1798 - 1799

A Farmhouse


by Greg Smith

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