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Works Thomas Girtin

Framlingham Castle

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0261: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Framlingham Castle, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 7 × 11.5 cm, 2 ¾ × 4 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Framlingham Castle
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
7 × 11.5 cm, 2 ¾ × 4 ½ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; East Anglia: Norfolk and Suffolk

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2008


Bonhams, 11 March 2008, lot 4 as 'A View of a Castle', £2,400

About this Work

This informal sketch-like view of the ruins of Framlingham Castle in Suffolk is based on TG0289 and is one of twenty or so small-scale watercolours that Girtin made after outline drawings that he had copied from the sketches of either his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), or his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and the young artist certainly did not visit the site himself. The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were produced for Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), at whose posthumous sale many were purchased by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), and they are now therefore part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. This example was separated from the rest of the group at some point and only recently reappeared on the art market under the title ‘A View of a Castle’.

One of Moore’s on-the-spot sketches of Framlingham was reproduced as an aquatint and it has been suggested that Monro may have had a publication in mind when he commissioned Girtin to produce watercolours such as this (Wilton, 1984a, p.12). However, though its small scale certainly suits it to reproduction as a book illustration, its rapid execution and sketch-like appearance, suggesting that the work was made on the spot, indicate that it is a very different kind of commodity. The subjects chosen for this informal sketch-like treatment certainly do not seem to follow any obvious pattern other than being generally amongst the lesser known of the nation’s medieval monuments. Monro was unsystematic in his commissioning habits, however, and it may be that there was nothing that united the group other than the fact that Girtin’s outlines after Moore’s sketches provided a readily available resource from which to produce watercolours quickly.

1794 - 1795

Framlingham Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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