For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

Grimbald Crag, near Knaresborough (page 30 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1610: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Grimbald Crag, near Knaresborough, (?) 1800, graphite on wove paper, 14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1977.15.29).

Photo courtesy of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Photo by Michael Pollard (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Grimbald Crag, near Knaresborough (page 30 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in

‘Grimble Craig nr Knaresbro’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin; ‘54’ lower left

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
River Scenery; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
369 as 'Grimbald Crag'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and 2022


Sale at Platt Vicarage, Rusholme, Manchester, 1898; sketchbook bought by 'Shepherd'; then by descent to F. W. Shepherd; his sale, Sotheby’s, 7 July 1977, lot 46; bought by Baskett and Day; bought by the Gallery, 1977


Hardie, 1938–39, no.11, p.93

About this Work

This view of Grimbald Crag on the river Nidd, just over a kilometre downstream from Knaresborough, is found on page thirty of the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600–1625). It appears to date from 1800, the year that Girtin inscribed on an on-the-spot sketch of Harewood House (TG1603) and when he produced a number of other drawings made in the vicinity of the river (such as TG1610). The artist is also recorded in the diary of Mary Anne Lascelles (1775–1831) as having stayed at Harewood House in August of that year, and it is therefore likely that the drawing was made as part of a campaign of sketching at Harewood and its environs that Girtin undertook in preparation for a major commission for his patron Edward Lascelles (1764–1814).1 This resulted in two very large watercolours of Harewood House (TG1547 and TG1548) as well as a distant view of Knaresborough (TG1669), the original sketch for which Girtin must have taken from a spot near to Grimbald Crag. However, although all the evidence points to an 1800 date, and that the drawing was made directly from nature, the fact that two of the views taken along the river that Girtin included in the Book of Drawings can be shown to be copies – Grimbald Bridge (TG1604) and A Crag on the River Nidd (TG1611) – should give pause for thought. Such is the hybrid nature of the book, which at this point was not much more than the artist’s informal gathering of sheets of paper, that copies and on-the-spot sketches sit side by side, and it may be that this drawing replicates an original that in this case has been lost.

Grimbald Crag, as David Hill has pointed out, is a weathered yellow sandstone outcrop located opposite to the Abbey Mill (TG1607), and the two subjects were presumably sketched at the same time (Hill, 1999, p.44). But, although Girtin used the latter as the basis for a studio watercolour, made for sale through Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835) (TG1672), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer, none of the other pencil sketches of scenery on the river Nidd led to a commission, no doubt because the subjects generally lack dramatic or picturesque interest. They were presumably included in the gathering of sheets of paper that were bound together after the artist's death to form the Book of Drawings as examples of the artist’s skill as a landscape draughtsman, with the hope that they might find a purchaser. At least sixteen pages have been removed from the book for sale at various times, many, it seems, by the artist himself. For simple pencil drawings like this example Girtin received the not inconsiderable sum of a guinea (£1 1s), in one instance at least.



Harewood House, from the South West


(?) 1800

Grimbald Crag, near Knaresborough


(?) 1801

Harewood House, from the South West


(?) 1801

Harewood House, from the South East



A Distant View of Knaresborough, from the South East


(?) 1800

Grimbald Bridge, near Knaresborough


(?) 1800

A Crag on the River Nidd


(?) 1800

The Abbey Mill, near Knaresborough


1800 - 1801

The Abbey Mill, near Knaresborough


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 YRK York Papers, Borthwick Institute, University of York

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.