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

Harewood House, from the South West (page 18 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)


Primary Image: TG1603: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Harewood House, from the South West, 1800, graphite on wove paper, 14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1977.15.18).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Harewood House, from the South West (page 18 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in

‘Harewood House. 1800’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘36’ lower left

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Country House View; The Landscape Park; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
367 as 'Harewood House'
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.6, p.92 as 'Harewood House, 1800'

About this Work

This view of Harewood House, seen from the south west across the ornamental lake formed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–83), appears on page seventeen of the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600–1625). This is a rare dated sketch, and consequently it is relatively straightforward to place it in the context of Girtin’s career. Thus, the artist is recorded in the diary of Mary Anne Lascelles (1775–1831) as staying at Harewood in August of 1800, and it is clear that this drawing was made as part of a campaign of sketching on the estate and its environs that Girtin undertook in preparation for a major commission from the artist’s important patron Edward Lascelles (1764–1814).1 This resulted in four very large watercolours: a distant view of Knaresborough (TG1669); a depiction of the picturesque beauty spot of Plumpton Rocks, on an estate owned by the Lascelles family (TG1553); and two framed portraits of the family’s palatial mansion viewed from its extensive park, one from the south east (TG1548) and one from the south west (TG1547). The last of these shows a similar view of the house from further away, so it is a reasonable assumption that the composition seen in the pencil drawing was rejected in favour of the more distant scene, and that this may have been because Girtin’s rival, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), had already executed a close variation of the subject (see TG1547 figure 1).

If Girtin’s drawing did not secure a commission from Lascelles, then its position in the Book of Drawings suggests that the artist still had hopes of selling the sketch itself to another collector, someone who appreciated the informal aspects of his work but who might not be able to afford the twenty-guinea price of a finished watercolour on the scale ordered by his wealthiest patron. Two pages back from the sheet on which this view of Harewood appears is a short stub, which would have been the location of one of sixteen pencil drawings and colour sketches that have been cut out of the book, most, presumably, during Girtin’s lifetime. No doubt the artist found the sale of such sketches in this way a useful additional source of income. An inscription on page sixteen records that the missing drawing was a similar ‘Sketch of Harewood House in Pencil’ and that it fetched the not inconsiderable sum of ‘£1.1.0’. Perhaps it was this sale that encouraged the artist to add to the view of the mansion from the south west, in a neater hand than was often the case, ‘Harewood House, 1800’; certainly, the artist himself did not need a reminder of either the date or the location.


A Distant View of Knaresborough, from the South East


1800 - 1801

Plumpton Rocks, near Knaresborough


(?) 1801

Harewood House, from the South East


(?) 1801

Harewood House, from the South West


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.