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Works Thomas Girtin

Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1646: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby, (?) 1800, graphite and watercolour on wove paper (possibly with a discoloured fixative), 11.4 × 17.3 cm, 4 ½ × 6 ¾ in. Private Collection, Hertfordshire.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hollow (All Rights Reserved)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
Title
  • Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby
Date
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper (possibly with a discoloured fixative)
Dimensions
11.4 × 17.3 cm, 4 ½ × 6 ¾ in
Inscription

‘near Wetherby’ on the back, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; The Village; Yorkshire View

Collection
Versions
Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby (TG1647)
Catalogue Number
TG1646
Description Source(s)
Viewed in March 2022

Provenance

Possibly George Hibbert (1757–1837); then by descent

About this Work

This sketch, showing the village of Kirk Deighton and the church of All Saints, is one of a group of seven studies of roughly the same size that show scenes in or near Wetherby (TG1641 and TG1645), Knaresborough and the river Nidd (TG1539, TG1542, TG1589), and the nearby village of Spofforth (TG1586). The sketches, all from the same private collection, appear to be part of a larger group of studies that Girtin executed in the vicinity of Harewood House, probably on his visit to Yorkshire in the summer of 1799 or 1800. Each of the drawings was executed on a piece of wove paper of roughly the same vertical dimensions, and there is some evidence that they were removed from a sketchbook, though when, and by whom, is not clear. Two other drawings on the same paper have matching holes, which suggests that they had been bound into a book (TG1508a and TG1525). One of these sketches – Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea (TG1525) – is missing a small section, which, as a later copy indicates (TG1601), must have strayed onto the opposite page. It seems that on just this one occasion Girtin did execute his sketches in a book, though, as the paper historian Peter Bower has argued, it is unlikely that this was made commercially, and it may be that the artist himself assembled sheets of paper into a convenient gathering, which would account for slight variations in their size (Bower, 2002, p.141). Whatever the case, this sheet is likely to have featured amongst the ‘180 Sketches’ or ‘4 little Books partly of sketches and partly blank paper’ that the artist’s brother, John Girtin (1773–1821), recorded taking possession of following the artist’s death in November 1802 and that he subsequently sold on (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1

The correct title for the watercolour based on this sketch (TG1647) proved elusive until 2001, when Charles Nugent, curator at the Whitworth Art Gallery, was able to link the inscription on the back of this sheet – ‘near Wetherby’ – to a drawing in the gallery’s collection and identify it as showing the village as Kirk Deighton (in conversation with the author). It is not surprising that this was not recognised sooner, since, although Girtin recorded the architectural details of the church reasonably closely, he flattened out the hill and opened up the view, as can be seen in contemporary photographs. Indeed, prompted by Nugent’s suggestion, my visit to the location suggested to me that the artist had made further changes to the scene. My initial thoughts were that the buildings to the right were invented, whilst those to the left were incorporated from another source, perhaps a location where the tripartite Georgian window and a prominent square tower – similar to that seen on the right-hand side of The Ouse Bridge, York (TG1649) – would have made a less incongruous appearance than here in a range of vernacular buildings that are out of scale with the rest of the composition. However, the fact that the other drawings in the sequence were demonstrably made on the spot has caused a rethink, and I no longer believe that this sketch was made as a study for the watercolour, with the artist trying out the combination of different elements in relation to the church, though there is still something that does not quite feel right about the composition.

The colouring on this study, as well as the other studies made in and around Wetherby, is quite crude in places and it lacks the inventive pattern-making that I associate with Girtin’s colouring on the spot. Indeed, at one time I seriously considered the possibility that the washes of colour on similar sketches were added subsequently to an outline drawing by another hand, and, given that John Girtin had access to the ‘Sketches’ left behind in the studio at his death, it is not impossible that it was he who was responsible, seeking to make the works more saleable. However, the same argument can be made in favour of Girtin’s authorship, and I now suspect that the colouring was added by him in the studio to an on-the-spot outline drawing to enhance the impression of a sketch worked from nature, something that might have had an extra appeal to supportive collectors.

(?) 1800

Wetherby Bridge and Mills, Looking across the Weir

TG1641

(?) 1800

Wetherby Mills

TG1645

1799 - 1800

Knaresborough, from the North West

TG1539

1799 - 1800

Knaresborough, Looking across Bilton Banks

TG1542

1799 - 1800

Buildings on the River Nidd, near Knaresborough

TG1589

1799 - 1800

Spofforth, with the Tower of All Saints Church

TG1586

1799 - 1800

Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck

TG1508a

1799 - 1800

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea

TG1525

1799 - 1800

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea

TG1525

(?) 1801

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea

TG1601

1800

Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby

TG1647

1800

The Ouse Bridge, York

TG1649

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Footnotes

  1. 1 Details are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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