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Works Thomas Girtin

Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1226: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water, (?) 1796, graphite on wove paper, 16.5 × 23.5 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1180).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
16.5 × 23.5 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in

‘T. Girtin / Jedburgh / (The spire rising behind / the Abbey is that / of the church)’ on the back

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; The Scottish Borders

Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water (TG1722)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
165i as 'Distant View of Jedburgh'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 29 May 1935, lot 313; volume bought by Bernard Squire, £32; bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960); given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

New Haven, 1986a, no.43

About this Work

This distant view of the partially ruined abbey church of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, seen from Jed Water, was probably made in 1796 on Girtin’s first independent sketching tour. Only one of the twenty or so pencil drawings and on-the-spot colour sketches that survive from the trip is dated, but it is still broadly possible to trace Girtin’s progress through Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders from the titles of the works that he sent to the 1797 Royal Academy exhibition, and from the dated watercolours that were subsequently produced from these and other untraced sketches. The watercolour based on this sketch is dated 1801 (TG1722), but Girtin is not known to have revisited the town on his second trip to the Borders in 1800. Moreover, given that he showed two works with the title ‘View of Jedborough Abbey’ at the 1797 Royal Academy exhibition (Exhibitions: Royal Academy, London, 1797, nos.423 and 466), it is likely that this and the other three sketches of the town and its abbey church (TG1225, TG1227 and TG1228) were all made in 1796, not least because the third of these drawings seems to have been dated by the artist himself.

Girtin made as many as seven different compositions from the material he collected in Jedburgh in 1796, and he also completed at least two watercolours from the sketches of other artists (TG0086 and TG0104). The abbey of Jedburgh and its village location were the subject of more attention by the artist than any other Gothic monument, and it is not surprising that when he came to picture the abbey at a distance from the river, he included only a broad outline of the building, as other sketches would have provided all the information he needed. Girtin was careful to include one detail, however: the confusing appearance of the spire of another building beyond the abbey, is noted here next to the ruined gable of the west front.1 Shown in such a summary manner, it would have been impossible for the artist to have interpreted this detail correctly five years later if he had not known the subject well.


Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water


(?) 1796

Jedburgh Abbey, from the North East


(?) 1796

Jedburgh Abbey


(?) 1796

The Village of Jedburgh, with the Abbey Ruins


1792 - 1793

Jedburgh Abbey, from the East


1792 - 1793

Jedburgh Abbey, from the East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 Not a part of another church, but the steeple added to Newgate in 1791 (Dennison, 2013, p.296).

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