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Works Thomas Girtin

Kingswear, from Dartmouth

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1265: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Kingswear, from Dartmouth, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on paper, 15.9 × 25.4 cm, 6 ¼ × 10 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Private Collection (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Kingswere' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.4, no.86, pl.171, 1 March 1799, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.139, 1854. British Museum, London (1878,0511.873).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Kingswear, from Dartmouth
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
15.9 × 25.4 cm, 6 ¼ × 10 in
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1264)
Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1266)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Christie's, 9 November 1934, lot 1; bought by 'G. D. Thomson' for the Palser Gallery, London, £31 10s; T. W. J. Jeavons; his posthumous sale, Fellows & Sons, 11 October 1977, lot 140, £400

About this Work

This view of the village of Kingswear on the east bank of the river Dart with Mount Ridley beyond is one of two watercolours (the other being TG1266) that were executed from a drawing that Girtin made on his 1797 West Country tour (TG1264). Whilst the other watercolour, which is larger and oval in shape, formed a pair with another coastal view of Starcross (TG1458), this smaller composition was reproduced as an engraving by John Walker (active 1776–1802) for his Copper-Plate Magazine in March 1799 (see the print after, above) (Walker, 1792–1802). 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, and this might also explain why this version of Kingswear, from Dartmouth is both smaller and less carefully worked than the oval watercolour. The text accompanying Walker’s image notes only that it is ‘a pleasant village in Devonshire’, however, and it is equally possible that the publisher acquired a work that the artist produced independently, in which case it may have been the opportunities that coastal scenery provided for dispensing with tired compositional conventions that sparked its creation. For, as Susan Morris has noted, the view of Kingswear provides a good example of Girtin’s ‘radical … rejection of picturesque organization’, since ‘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).

Dartmouth Castle

A publisher with the opportunity to commission a specific view from Girtin would surely have chosen one of the numerous more picturesque scenes to be found around Dartmouth, not least the splendidly located castle, which, with the adjacent church of St Petroc, was the focus of attention for most visitors, including artists such as Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804) (see figure 1). Girtin’s viewpoint for this and another slightly different watercolour of Kingswear (TG1267) is actually close to the castle, but, in an early example of the artist turning his back on the popular, picturesque view, he sketched a scene that allowed him to show off his skills as a watercolourist rather than showcasing the more traditional accomplishments of the topographical artist. And, as was the case with a series of views of the region’s coastal villages, including Shaldon (TG1263), Appledore (TG1737) and Exmouth (TG1730), this meant concentrating on the reflections in the water and the patterns that they created.


1798 - 1799

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


(?) 1797

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1797 - 1798



1796 - 1797

Totnes, from the River Dart


1797 - 1798

The Marine Barracks at Stonehouse, Plymouth


1798 - 1799

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1797 - 1798

Shaldon, Seen from Teignmouth


(?) 1800

Appledore, from Instow Sands



A Rainbow over the River Exe


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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