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Works Thomas Girtin

Kingswear, from Dartmouth

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1266: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Kingswear, from Dartmouth, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 22.9 × 50.2 cm, 9 × 19 ¾ in, oval. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive, PA-F03344-0059 (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Kingswear, from Dartmouth
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
22.9 × 50.2 cm, 9 × 19 ¾ in, oval
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1264)
Kingswear, from Dartmouth (TG1265)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
206ii as 'Village of Kingswere, from Dartmouth'; '1797'
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue; Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive


Possibly Richardson, 23 May 1804, lot 31; possibly bought by Peter Bluett (1767-1843) of Holcombe Court, Devon; then by descent to Peter Frederick Bluett (1806-84); Holcombe Court bought by the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866), 1858; his collection by descent to Revd George Morganig William Thomas Jenkins (1879-1952); acquired by Gooden & Fox Ltd., 1936

Exhibition History

Gooden & Fox, 1968, no.63

About this Work

This view of Kingswear from Dartmouth, looking east over the river Dart with Mount Ridley beyond, is one of two versions of a composition (TG1265) that the artist made from a sketch he took on his 1797 tour of the West Country (TG1264). It and its pair, another Devon coastal view, Starcross (TG1458), are the only oval landscapes painted by Girtin. The works were discovered in the 1930s by Paul Oppé (1878–1957) in Holcombe Court in Devon, and at first sight they would appear to be an example of a patron commissioning a pair of local views from Girtin, something that may even have helped to finance the artist’s West Country tour. The owner of Holcombe during Girtin’s life was Peter Bluett (1767–1863), and Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) made the not unreasonable assumption that he was the first owner of these views as well as another eight works by the artist that were found in the same house (Girtin Archive, 26). The watercolours make for a disparate group, however, dating from different periods of Girtin’s career and, aside from this pair, there is no obvious pattern to the subjects depicted or their format and function. It is perfectly possible that Bluett was a collector of Girtin’s work and that he even purchased the watercolours after the artist’s death, but it must also be remembered that Holcombe was sold in 1858, and it may be that the works actually came to the house from the new owner, the Revd William Rayer (1786–1866).

The idea that the pairing of views of the south Devon coastal villages of Starcross and Kingswear might not have been at the behest of a local patron removes one possible explanation for the artist’s adoption of a highly uncharacteristic and not altogether successful oval format. The composition of Kingswear works well enough as an oval, and indeed the composition may even have been suggested by the symmetrical curve of the hill, but the effectiveness of the Starcross view has been seriously compromised by the adoption of a more extended format, and the subject in both watercolours has been pushed back so that it does not engage with the viewer so directly as the smaller but more conventional version. Rather than being tailored to fit the requirements of a patron’s display, therefore, it would seem that Girtin’s use of an oval was an example of the artist experimenting with the panoramic format, perhaps introducing the rounded terminations to mitigate against the diffuse terminations inherent in the extended format. A picturesque fishing village, never mind that it is situated near the coast, proves an unsatisfactory subject for such an extended view, therefore, and presumably this was why the artist did not return to the oval format.

1797 - 1798

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


(?) 1797

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


1797 - 1798



by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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