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Works Thomas Girtin

Kirkby Malham

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1606: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Kirkby Malham, (?) 1800, graphite on wove paper, 15.2 × 20.3 cm, 6 × 8 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Kirkby Malham
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
15.2 × 20.3 cm, 6 × 8 in

‘Kirkby near Malham’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Yorkshire View

Kirkby Malham (TG1690)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in June 2018


Leger Galleries, London, 1984; Christie's, 3 July 2018, lot 120 as 'The bridge at Kirkby, near Malham, Yorkshire' as by Thomas Girtin, unsold

Exhibition History

Leger Galleries, 1984, no.57 as by Henry Edridge


Hill, 1999, p.58

About this Work

This pencil sketch, showing the village of Kirkby Malham in Malhamdale in Yorkshire, was incorrectly attributed to Henry Edridge (1768–1821) until David Hill identified it as a page that had been removed from Girtin’s Book of Drawings (Hill, 1999, p.58). Page twenty-six, opposite a missing sheet, is inscribed ‘Kirkby Church’, and the drawing, which is on paper that conforms to the size of the book, was clearly cut from it, presumably by Girtin, who may have sold as many as sixteen sheets from it. An untraced pencil drawing of Harewood House, described as a ‘Sketch … in Pencil’, sold for a guinea (£1 1s), and this was no doubt something like the value of this sheet to the sort of collector who appreciated the less formal aspects of Girtin’s work. We have no idea who the purchaser was, but he, or just as likely, she, was in all probability an amateur artist, and sketches such as this were often acquired for use as models to copy and learn from, rather than for their subject matter. In this case, the drawing was also used as the basis for a watercolour, which is dated 1801 (TG1690). This may have been commissioned by Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, later Duchess of Sutherland (1765–1839), who was both a patron and an amateur artist (Morris, 2002a, pp.256–57), and, given that she was one of Girtin’s most able students, I suspect that it might have been her who acquired the pencil drawing. If Lady Sutherland, as she was known at this time, did commission the watercolour, it is likely that she saw the sketch in the Whitworth Book of Drawings as that is the only way that she could have known that an obscure church in Malhamdale might make a worthwhile watercolour commission. If this was the case, and admittedly there is no evidence about the drawing’s early provenance, the sale of the sketch probably took place after the production of the finished studio work, as Girtin would not have had anything to work from. This may even have occurred after the artist’s death, when the book assumed its final form as a collection of sixty sheets of varying dates bound within end papers with an '1803' watermark. This, I suspect, was done at the behest of the artist’s brother John Girtin (1773–1821) who appropriated material from the artist’s studio after his death including ‘4 little Books partly of sketches and partly blank paper’, a combination that accords with the unusual makeup of the book and it is possible that it was he who made the sale (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1

This drawing of Kirkby Malham, seen from the south east, probably dates from 1800, when the artist visited Malhamdale to sketch the sublime scenery of Gordale Scar (TG1630). This, it seems, was undertaken on an excursion from Harewood House, where the artist stayed with his patron Edward Lascelles (1764–1814), and the trip resulted in at least one other subject in the Book of Drawings (TG1608). The sketch depicts the view from the stone bridge over Kirkby Beck, looking towards the church of St Michael the Archangel with its fine Perpendicular east window prominent.


Kirkby Malham


(?) 1800

Gordale Scar Waterfall


(?) 1800

A Farmhouse in Malhamdale, Known as ‘Kirkby Priory, near Malham’


by Greg Smith


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

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