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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Marco Ricci

Italianate Buildings next to a River

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG0884: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Marco Ricci (1676–1730), Italianate Buildings next to a River, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 31.8 × 22.9 cm, 12 ½ × 9 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Marco Ricci (1676-1730)
  • Italianate Buildings next to a River
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
31.8 × 22.9 cm, 12 ½ × 9 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Foreign Master
Subject Terms
Classical Buildings: Imaginary

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2010


John Edward Taylor (1830–1905); his wife, Martha Elizabeth Taylor, neé Warner (1828–1912); their executor's sale, Christie's, 5 July 1912, lot 96 as 'A Building in Italy' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; 'Leggatt', £42; 'Reid'; Parke-Bernet, New York, 22–24 March 1951, lot 453 as 'A Building in Italy' by Joseph Mallord William Turner (catalogue untraced); Denise Adeane; her posthumous sale, Christie’s, 7 July 2010, lot 393 as by Thomas Girtin, £5,250

About this Work

Around 1799–1800, Girtin produced a group of six watercolour versions of the architectural views of the Venetian artist Marco Ricci (1676–1730), including a not dissimilar scene to this of an imaginary tower next to a river (TG0880), and this upright composition does indeed bear some resemblance to one of the etchings executed by Davide Fossati (1708–95) that were published in Venice in 1743 as 24 Landscapes after Marco Ricci (see figure 1). However, although Girtin did make some changes when adapting compositions by Ricci, these were minimal, amounting to little more than a simplification of the forms and a reduction in the number of figures, and the suggestion in a sale catalogue from 2010 that this watercolour is based on the etching, or on the original drawing on which it was based (see figure 2), is not tenable. All six of Girtin’s watercolour versions of Ricci compositions follow the sense of the etchings, which reverses the direction of the original composition; however, comparing this drawing with the print and its source indicates that this was not the case here. The composition developed by Girtin thus makes more visual sense than the etching, which reverses the Ricci original, and it follows from this that we should look for the source of Girtin’s image not in a print but in one of Ricci’s drawings, either a monochrome or one of the numerous bodycolours that the artist made for the market in Italianate architectural views that flourished in Britain in the eighteenth century.

All six of the copies after Ricci’s compositions were executed on similar laid paper, each measuring roughly 12 ½ × 19 in (31.8 x 48.3 cm), and they appear to date on stylistic grounds to around 1799–1800, when they were probably made for sale on the open market. In contrast, this work, with its predominantly monochrome palette, dates from a year or two earlier and there is some evidence that it was produced for Girtin’s early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). The patron’s posthumous sale included eight Girtin ‘DRAWINGS, FRAMED AND GLAZED’ that are described as ‘views in Italy’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 28 June 1833, lots 156, 160 and 163), whilst the same auction included, again amongst the drawings, framed and glazed, six ‘Italian Landscapes’ by Ricci (Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lots 172 and 173). It is of course possible that Girtin came across Ricci’s drawings at the home of another patron, but the fact that this watercolour fits in stylistically with the work that Girtin produced in conjunction with Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) for Monro between 1794 and 1797 suggests that, in contrast to watercolours such as An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings (TG0880), this smaller upright composition was made earlier and as a commission.

1800 - 1801

An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings


1800 - 1801

An Imaginary City, with Antique Buildings


by Greg Smith

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