For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

Jedburgh from the River, with the Abbey Beyond

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1723: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Jedburgh from the River, with the Abbey Beyond, 1800–01, graphite, watercolour, bodycolour, stopping out and scratching out on laid paper, 47 × 62.2 cm, 18 ½ × 24 ½ in. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (NGI.2120).

Photo courtesy of National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Jedburgh from the River, with the Abbey Beyond
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour, bodycolour, stopping out and scratching out on laid paper
47 × 62.2 cm, 18 ½ × 24 ½ in

‘Girtin’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Commissioned from Thomas Girtin; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; River Scenery; The Scottish Borders

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
253 as 'Jedburgh Abbey'; '1798'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2015


Edward Lascelles (1764–1814); then by descent to Henry Lascelles, 4th Earl of Harewood (1824–92); his sale, possibly Christie’s, 1 May 1858, lot 31 as 'A Ruined Abbey, with cottage and a bridge'; bought by 'Colnaghi', 20 gns; Foster's, 26 March 1859, lot 13 as 'Jedburgh Bridge and Abbey, from Lord Harewood’s collection'; William Smith (1808–76) (lent to London, 1861); presented to the Gallery, 1872

Exhibition History

(?) Royal Academy, London, 1800, no.418 as ’Jedburgh’; London, 1861, no.29; New York, 1967, no.70; Dublin, 1997, no.11


Davies, 1924, pl.39; Harivel and Goacher, 1997, p.12

About this Work

This sadly faded view of Jedburgh Abbey, seen from the south bank of Jed Water, has not hitherto been associated with Edward Lascelles (1764–1814), but there is little doubt that it was commissioned by Girtin’s most significant late patron around 1800. The evidence that it was the ‘Ruined Abbey, with cottage and a bridge’ that was sold from the Lascelles family collection in 1858 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 May 1858, lot 31) includes the fact that it is the same size as another commission, On the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey (TG1554), which is the only other work by Girtin on paper with the unusual measurements of 18 ½ × 24 ½ in (47 × 62.2 cm). Moreover, the work was listed in a later sale as ‘Jedburgh Bridge and Abbey, from Lord Harewood’s collection’ (Exhibitions: Foster’s, 26 March 1859, lot 13), and the watercolour’s faded condition also reinforces the possibility that it came from the Lascelles collection. The 1858 sale was thus said to have been occasioned by the condition of the fifteen works, which, after over half a century of display on the walls of the family’s London townhouse in Hanover Square, were shadows of their former selves. A little more colour has survived here, compared with On the River Wharfe, suggesting that in this case, the fading was less down to Girtin’s choice of fugitive pigments than the circumstances of the work’s display, which so often wrought havoc with the larger framed works. Nonetheless, the pencil underdrawing clearly shows through, the sky has gone, and the reds and ochres have become too dominant, at the expense of the greens of the foliage. All of this is a great pity, because I suspect that this carefully composed combination of a picturesque river scene, an unusually prominent figure group and a grand monastic ruin originally created a dramatic impact that was comparable to that of a slightly smaller view, Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East (TG1724). Indeed, the fine condition of that work gives us some idea of the original appearance of the faded watercolour. 

Most of Lascelles’ commissions from Girtin are Yorkshire scenes, but the earliest show views in North Wales and there is at least one other that, like this one, seems to have been derived from a sketch made on the artist’s 1796 tour to the north east and the Scottish Borders (TG1104). The fact that there is a dated view of Jedburgh Abbey from Jed Water produced in 1801 (TG1722) does not necessarily mean that the artist returned to the area later in his career. Although the sketch for this view does not appear to have survived, it is unlikely to have been substantially different from the finished watercolour. For Girtin, the act of sketching was more than just about recording the details of a landscape, as the drawing invariably fixed the form of the composition too. As a print after Charles Catton’s (1728–98) similar view of the abbey from the south east shows (see figure 1), Girtin’s selection of a position closer to the bridge resulted in a greater emphasis on the picturesque cottages in the foreground, and he did not have to change the position of any of the foreground elements to suit his purpose. It seems that the women washing clothes were a common sight on this stretch of the river, and this detail was not invented by Girtin either, though arguably the figures are rather closer to those found in one of the prints after Marco Ricci (1676–1730) (see figure 2) that he copied on a number of occasions.

1800 - 1801

On the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey


1800 - 1801

Jedburgh Abbey, from the South East


1798 - 1799

Bamburgh Castle



Jedburgh Abbey, from Jed Water


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.