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Works Thomas Girtin

Hulne Priory in Alnwick Park

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1091: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Hulne Priory in Alnwick Park, (?) 1796, graphite on paper (watermark: IV), 14.6 × 23.5 cm, 5 ¾ × 9 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Hulne Priory in Alnwick Park
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper (watermark: IV)
14.6 × 23.5 cm, 5 ¾ × 9 ¼ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Durham and Northumberland; Monastic Ruins

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2011


John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 29 May 1935, lot 313; volume bought by Bernard Squire, £32; Crispin Warmington; Tring Market Auctions, 27 September 2008, lot 309 as 'A landscape with a dwelling and a ruined church in the distance' (catalogue untraced); W/S Fine Art Ltd / Andrew Wyld, London, 2011; Christie's, 10 July 2012, lot 68 as 'Hulne Priory in the Duke of Northumberland's Park at Alnwick', £1,875

Exhibition History

Andrew Wyld, 2011, no.20

About this Work

This rapidly executed pencil sketch shows a distant view of the ruins of Hulne Priory, near Alnwick, on the estate of the 2nd Duke of Northumberland (1742–1817). The ruin is situated above the river Aln opposite to Brizlee Hill, which provided the viewpoint for Girtin’s fine watercolour of Alnwick Castle looking east towards the sea (TG1092). What may have been the sketch for that work last appeared on the art market in 1883 (Exhibitions: Phillips, 12 June 1883, lot 117), so it has not been possible to confirm that both drawings were done at the same time in 1796 or, as has been claimed for this sketch when it was sold at auction in 2012, that it was made on Girtin’s later trip to the Scottish Borders in 1800. However, given that Alnwick would have been easily accessible to Girtin during his visits to nearby Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh on the coast, I suspect that they were both made in 1796 and not at the later date, which would have required the artist to make a considerable detour from his route to or from the Scottish Borders. In any case, Girtin does not appear to have made a finished studio watercolour from his sketch. Perhaps he was deterred by the fact that despite its fine site, Hulne Priory was not a typical picturesque monastic ruin, dominated, as it was, by a defensive tower complete with battlements and featuring a two-storied Gothic Revival summerhouse built as recently as 1778–79 as part of the improvements to the Alnwick estate undertaken by Robert Adam (1728–92) and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–83) for the 1st Duke of Northumberland (c.1714–86).

1799 - 1800

Alnwick Castle, from Brizlee


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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