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Works Thomas Girtin

Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1232: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East, 1797–98, watercolour on paper, 35.2 × 48.3 cm, 13 ⅞ × 19 in. Blickling Hall, Norfolk (National Trust) (NT 355495).

Photo courtesy of National Trust Images (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
35.2 × 48.3 cm, 13 ⅞ × 19 in

'Lady Lothian's Bedroom' on a label on the mount; 'Jedburgh - Girtin, £15.15.0d' on the mount

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; The Scottish Borders

Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East (TG1724)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Colour Photograph


Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian (1882–1940); bequeathed to the National Trust, 1940

About this Work

This view of the partially ruined Jedburgh Abbey, seen from the bridge over Jed Water to the south east, is one of two versions of a composition that Girtin probably sketched on his first visit to the Scottish Borders, in 1796 (the other being TG1724). The larger of the two compositions was produced around 1800 for sale through Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who, in his capacity as the artist’s representative, acted somewhere between an agent and a dealer at this date. However, this view appears to be from a little earlier, though its faded condition makes this difficult to assess. The work was discovered in 1957 at Blickling Hall in Norfolk by Francis Hawcroft (1925–88), and does not therefore feature in Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak’s catalogue of Girtin’s watercolours, though Tom Girtin (1913–94) later noted that it was a poor-quality version of the work now at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (Girtin and Loshak, 1954; Girtin Archive, 32). The house and its collections were bequeathed to the National Trust by the 11th Marquess of Lothian (1882–1940), and, given that the family held the title of the barony of Jedburgh and owned property in the town, it is possible that the work was commissioned by an earlier holder of the title – either the 4th or the 5th earl, both of whom were alive during Girtin’s lifetime. However, the inscription on the reverse of the mount, which gives the price of the drawing as £15 15s, suggests otherwise, being too high for a commission from the artist around 1800, and it is therefore more likely to have been acquired by purchase later in the nineteenth century.

Jedburgh is situated on one of the main routes from England, and this, combined with the picturesque location of the ruins in the village, helped to make it a popular subject with artists and patrons. Indeed, Girtin produced perhaps as many as six different compositions showing the abbey, including viewed from a position above (TG1229), seen from closer to (TG1231), looking from the river (as here and in TG1233) and looking from the east, as in two views that were made before his 1796 tour from a sketch by his early patron James Moore (1762–99) (TG0086 and TG0104). Possibly as many as five on-the-spot sketches from the 1796 tour also survive, including another more detailed view of the abbey from the south east (TG1227), though it was taken from slightly closer too. Missing from this on-the-spot sketch is the curious feature of the distant spire, which found its way into both versions of this composition so that it appears, confusingly, to be part of the abbey. This is the sort of detail that more traditional topographical artists, such as Charles Catton (1728–98), who depicted a number of views of Jedburgh at this date, either omitted or made sure that to exclude so as to avoid a misleading alignment of forms (see TG1233 figure 1).

1800 - 1801

Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East


1797 - 1798

The Village of Jedburgh, with the Abbey Ruins


1796 - 1797

The West Front of Jedburgh Abbey


(?) 1800

Jedburgh Abbey, from the Riverbank


1792 - 1793

Jedburgh Abbey, from the East


1792 - 1793

Jedburgh Abbey, from the East


(?) 1796

Jedburgh Abbey


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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