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Works Thomas Girtin

Kelso, from the River Tweed

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1716: Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), Kelso, from the River Tweed, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on paper, 20.5 × 30 cm, 8 ⅛ × 11 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Kelso, from the River Tweed
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
20.5 × 30 cm, 8 ⅛ × 11 ¾ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; The Scottish Borders; Wind and Water Mills

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Sotheby’s, 19 November 1981, lot 82, £2,420

About this Work

This watercolour shows a distant view of the ruined west end of Kelso Abbey, with Ednam House to its left, seen from near the confluence of the rivers Tweed and Teviot. The view looking east includes one of the mills seen in the three other watercolours of the river (TG1713, TG1714 and TG1715), and it is likely that this work was produced at the same time, though the exact date is unclear. One of the artist’s views of Kelso Abbey is dated 1800 (TG1717), and it may be that Girtin made the untraced sketch on which this view is based in that year, when he is known to have stayed with the 11th Earl of Buchan (1742–1829) at the latter’s nearby seat at Dryburgh (Jenkins, Notes, 1852). However, other Kelso subjects appear to have been based on sketches made during the artist’s earlier trip to the Scottish Borders in 1796, and this was probably the case with this, the smallest of four Tweed views that he painted. This watercolour is unfortunately known only from a black and white photograph taken when it was sold at auction in 1981 and I am therefore unable to confirm the date of ‘circa 1800’ that was given then, though it is likely to be closer to the mark than the suggestion of 1802 that Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak made regarding the other Tweed views (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.202). Viewing the same image, Tom Girtin (1913–94) even questioned the attribution, but after seeing the watercolour he pronounced it ‘ok but not very interesting’, adding that it was ‘in suspiciously good condition’ (Girtin Archive, 32). I am not sure what the artist’s descendant meant by that last comment, though it is just possible that the work was sketched on the spot and has remained in good condition because it was kept in a portfolio away from the damaging effect of strong light, though this cannot be confirmed at this stage.

1799 - 1800

The River Tweed at Kelso


1799 - 1800

The River Tweed at Kelso


1800 - 1801

The River Tweed at Kelso, Looking Upstream



Kelso Abbey: The West Front


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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