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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

Lancaster Priory Church, Seen with the Old Bridge over the River Lune

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0358: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Lancaster Priory Church, Seen with the Old Bridge over the River Lune, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card), 7.7 × 12 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIX 16 (D36643).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Lancaster Priory Church, Seen with the Old Bridge over the River Lune
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card)
7.7 × 12 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in
Object Type
Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 81 or 82 as 'Views and ruins, in colours, on cards 10'; bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £8 18s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.818a


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1243 as 'Lancaster' by Thomas Girtin; Tate Online as 'Lancaster Church and Bridge' (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

Lancaster, Seen from the Old Bridge over the River Lune

This informal sketch-like view, looking across the river Lune to Lancaster Priory Church, is part of a group of twenty or so small-scale watercolours by Girtin in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain that also includes a second view across the river to the castle (TG0357). The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were produced for Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) around 1795–96 and some sixty ‘Coloured Drawings on Cards’ were sold from his collection in all (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 7 May 1808, lots 60 and 61; Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 80–83). The watercolours were made after Girtin’s own outline drawings, forty or so of which are also in the Turner Bequest. Generally, subjects such as this, which Girtin could not have sketched on the spot himself, were copied from the outlines of his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), though in this case the source for the image was probably an untraced sketch by Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). Moore was no more than a competent amateur, and, even though he did visit Lancaster and no doubt made sketches there, this composition, which combines a complex mix of ancient and contemporary buildings into a well-balanced whole, would have been beyond his capabilities. Dayes seems to have relished the particular combination of buildings, bridge and river seen at Lancaster and in other cathedral towns, such as Hereford and Rochester, and he made the motif the subject of a number of his most impressive compositions, including a major exhibition piece depicting Lancaster from the other, downriver side of the bridge, painted in 1794 (see figure 1).

There are no fewer than three different views of Lancaster amongst the subjects produced by Girtin in colour on small cards for Monro (the others being TG0229 and TG0357). This is more than for any other location, begging the question of whether the town had a special significance for the patron; certainly, it is unlikely to have had any meaning for Girtin, who did not visit Lancaster or any adjacent region. But perhaps it is wrong to assume that the selection of subjects was Monro’s since, other than the choice of three views of Lancaster, there seems to be no discernible rationale that unites the outlines and the coloured cards, either by geography or building type – certainly nothing that might have made for a thematically unified publication, as has been suggested (Wilton, 1984a, p.12). It may be that Girtin was instead given the freedom to select from the vast range of sketches and outlines in Monro’s possession compositions that might work as small sketch-like watercolours, and that no particular significance should be read into his choices.

The paper is discoloured as a result of excessive exposure to light whilst on long-term exhibition. The card used here is also noticeably thinner than the other supports used in this group of watercolours.

1795 - 1796

Lancaster Castle, from the River Lune


1795 - 1796

Lancaster Castle and Priory Church, Seen with the Old Bridge over the River Lune


1795 - 1796

Lancaster Castle, from the River Lune


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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