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Works (?) Thomas Girtin after Samuel Wale

Interior of St Stephen Walbrook, Looking East

1790 - 1791

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'Inside of St. Stephen's Walbrook', for The Temple of Taste, no.17, 1 March 1796, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.7, 1820. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

Artist's source: Edward Rooker (1724–74), after Samuel Wale (1720–86), etching, 'St. Stephen Walbrook' for London and its Environs Described, vol.6, p.66, 1761, 14.2 × 8.3 cm, 5 ⅝ × 3 ¼ in. British Museum, London (Ee,6.129).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Samuel Wale (1720-1786)
  • Interior of St Stephen Walbrook, Looking East
1790 - 1791
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

Charles Taylor’s (1756–1823) engraved view of the interior of St Stephen Walbrook for his periodical The Temple of Taste was published on 1 February 1796. The original drawing has not been traced; however, given the number of signed watercolours for the publication that survive, it is likely that it too was produced by the young apprentice Girtin. Unlike Girtin’s slightly earlier signed and dated view of Sir Christopher Wren’s much-admired interior (TG0014), this image of St Stephen’s is based on the work of another artist, Samuel Wale (1720–86) (see the source image above). The discovery of the source for Taylor’s view explains the striking differences between it and Girtin’s contemporary watercolour of the church, not least the adoption of a cross-section through the vault in the foreground. Wale’s view, for instance, does not include Benjamin West’s (1738–1820) altarpiece, Devout Men Taking the Body of St Stephen, which was installed over the altar after its exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1776, and it also omits the pulpit seen to the right of Girtin’s watercolour and the prominent pews. Taylor rather disingenuously claimed in the text accompanying the print that since these features ‘greatly injure the beauty of this church … all that is not Sir Christopher’s, is omitted’ when it was the selection of Wale’s view, dating from 1761, that determined the emphasis on the architectural framework.

Taylor chose to illustrate the interior of St Stephen’s as the best example of Wren’s ability in ‘contriving and executing internal parts’. The small church, he argued, had nothing to recommend itself externally, but ‘the inside of it is of exquisite beauty’ and is Wren’s ‘master-piece’. ‘Italy itself’, he concluded, ‘can produce no modern building that can vie with this in taste and proportion’, and these qualities he felt were better expressed in an unadorned view in the old style rather than the more picturesque depiction of a working building developed by Girtin in his aforementioned roughly contemporary watercolour of the same subject.


London: Interior of St Stephen Walbrook, Looking East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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