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Works Thomas Girtin

Kingswear, from Dartmouth

(?) 1797

Primary Image: TG1264: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Kingswear, from Dartmouth, (?) 1797, graphite on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN), 25 × 41.1 cm, 9 ⅞ × 16 ⅛ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1186).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Kingswear, from Dartmouth
(?) 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN)
25 × 41.1 cm, 9 ⅞ × 16 ⅛ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Village of Kingswear from Dartmouth’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin; ‘village of Kingswear from Dartmouth - / T. Girtin’ and ‘Girtin’, on the back

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1265)
Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1266)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
206i as 'Village of Kingswere, from Dartmouth'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 16 May 1881, lot 391 (9 items); bought by 'Palser', £3 5s; J. Palser & Sons; Edward Cohen (1816–87); then by bequest to his niece, Isabella Oswald (1838–1905); her posthumous sale, Robins & Hine, 30 March 1905, lot unknown; bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), £1; 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, 1977, no.113; New Haven, 1986a, no.55


Davies, 1924, pl.57; Morris, 1986, p.17

About this Work

This view of Kingswear from Dartmouth, looking east over the river Dart, was almost certainly executed on Girtin’s West Country tour in the autumn of 1797. The artist is documented as having been in Exeter in early November, where he sketched the interior of the cathedral and along the river Exe, before journeying west along the south coast and then turning north to arrive at Bideford towards the end of the month. This is one of a series of views of the region’s coastal villages, ports and fashionable resorts that he sketched along the way (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1 The size of the sketch and its careful detailing suggest that the artist had it in mind to make a finished watercolour of the subject and, indeed, there are two drawings that repeat the composition (TG1265 and TG1266). The latter was reproduced as an engraving by John Walker (active 1776–1802) for his Copper-Plate Magazine (see print after TG1265), and it may be that Girtin travelled to Dartmouth with a commission from the publisher for a view of Kingswear. The tour yielded two other views for Walker’s publication (TG1272 and TG1274), and it is possible, as with the 1796 trip to the north east and the Scottish Borders, that commissions for works to be engraved helped to finance this trip. The text accompanying Walker’s image notes only that Kingswear is ‘a pleasant village in Devonshire’, however, and it is equally possible that the location appealed more to the artist’s interest in the opportunities that coastal scenery provided for dispensing with tired compositional conventions (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.4, no.86, pl.171). As Susan Morris has noted, the view of Kingswear provides a good example of Girtin’s ‘radical … rejection of picturesque organization’, for ‘not only is the spectator suspended above the water, but the land bulges at the center and retreats into distance at the sides’, thus effecting a reversal of the landscape convention developed by the great seventeenth-century painter Claude Lorrain (1604/5–82), where the illusion of depth is concentrated centrally (Morris, 1986, p.17).

1797 - 1798

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1798 - 1799

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1797 - 1798

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1796 - 1797

Totnes, from the River Dart


1797 - 1798

The Marine Barracks at Stonehouse, Plymouth


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The financial records of the artist's brother John Girtin (1773–1821) include two loans he made to Thomas Girtin during the trip. The records are transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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