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Works Thomas Girtin

Hatfield House, from the South East

1799 - 1800

Primary Image: TG1572: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Hatfield House, from the South East, 1799–1800, graphite on wove paper, 32.2 × 54 cm, 12 ⅝ × 21 ¼ in. British Museum, London (1855,0214.62).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Hatfield House, from the South East
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
32.2 × 54 cm, 12 ⅝ × 21 ¼ in

‘62’ upper right, in pen and ink

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Country House View; London and Environs

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
395 as 'Hatfield House, Hertfordshire'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Possibly Christie’s, 18 May 1810, lot 171 as 'View of Hatfield House'; ... Chambers Hall (1786–1855); presented to the Museum, 1855


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.64

About this Work

This large pencil drawing shows Hatfield House from the south east, looking across the park to the great Jacobean mansion that was built for Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (1563–1612), between 1607 and 1612. The British Museum follows the date given to the drawing by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak (1800) but gives no evidence for this, and in truth it may have been produced at almost any time between 1796 and 1800, either on a day trip from London or on the way to or from the north of England on one of the artist’s tours (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.188). The exceptional size of the drawing (equalled only by the outlines Girtin produced for his London panorama) combined with the wealth of detail that is included suggests that it was not copied from another artist. Moreover, the considerable investment of time involved in the production of an on-the-spot sketch on this scale suggests that Girtin had a major finished watercolour in mind. Nothing has so far been traced, though an item titled ‘Hatfield’ and said to be dated 1802 appeared at an auction in 1896, where it was attributed to ‘Girtin and Pearson’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 25 February 1896, lot 164). However, the low price that the item realised suggests that this was not a studio watercolour similar to the large distant views of Arundel Castle (TG1567) and Alnwick Castle (TG1092), and that any plans the artist may have had came to nothing. Those watercolours do not appear to have been commissioned by the owners of the properties, and I suspect that this was the case with this sketch too. The fact that the sketch did not lead to any significant outcome also strikes me as regrettable as the intricate architectural detailing of Hatfield House might have been expected to have provided a more satisfying subject than the classical styling of Harewood House, though the landscape setting at Hatfield is arguably less compelling.

1799 - 1800

A Distant View of Arundel Castle, from the South


1799 - 1800

Alnwick Castle, from Brizlee


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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