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Works Thomas Girtin after Unknown Artist

Langton Hall


Primary Image: TG1028: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after an Unknown Artist, Langton Hall, 1796, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 12.3 × 17.4 cm, 4 ⅞ × 6 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1868.1).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), etching and engraving, 'Langton Hall' for A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln, 25 June 1797, 22.4 × 26.5 cm, 8 ⅞ × 10 ⅜ in. British Museum, London (1878,1214.539).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Unknown Artist
  • Langton Hall
Medium and Support
Watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
12.3 × 17.4 cm, 4 ⅞ × 6 ⅞ in

‘T. Girtin-1796’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; 'Langton Hall, Lincolnshire / In the year 1764 Dr. Johnson visited, much to his satisfaction, his friend Bennet Langton Esqre. at this old Hall. J.B. 1801' on a label cut from an old mount, by John Buckler

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Country House View; Lincolnshire

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


John Buckler (1770–1851); then by descent to John Chessel Buckler (1793–1894); presented to the Museum, 1868


Davies, 1924, p.25; Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, pp.336–37, no.734

About this Work

This view of the sixteenth-century Langton Hall in Lincolnshire was engraved in 1797 by Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827) for his publication A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln (see the print after, above) (Howlett, 1805), whilst the watercolour itself dates from 1796. Girtin visited the county two years earlier in the company of his earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), and two of the views of Lincoln that he made for his patron after his own on-the-spot sketches were included by Howlett in Views in the County of Lincoln (TG1008 and TG1010). However, the majority of the ten views that were engraved after Girtin’s Lincolnshire scenes were made from sketches taken by other artists, and, although the print does not record the fact, it too was probably made after a secondary source. Certainly, the building had little to recommend itself architecturally, and it hardly merited a detour from Girtin’s route from London to Lincoln. Langton’s sole claim to fame, as noted on the back of the drawing by the work’s first owner, the topographical artist John Buckler (1770–1851), is that it was the home of Bennet Langton (c.1736–1801), a friend of the writer Samuel Johnson (1709–84), who visited ‘this old Hall … much to his satisfaction’ in 1764. Girtin endeavoured to enliven the plain elevation of the hall, adding figures including a man and woman, and, nearer to the house, two nursemaids with a child in a small carriage, as well as various trees and bushes. However, there was no disguising the fact that he was working with essentially dull material. As an anonymous writer in the Annual Review noted of the ‘seventy-five prints’ included in Views in the County of Lincoln, less than a third ‘have beauty, elegance, or antiquity to recommend them’. The reviewer did go on to note that a ‘few of the prints from drawings by Turner and Girtin, are pleasing and beautiful’, but they only serve to show how ‘insipid and tasteless’ are the rest (Annual Review, 1806, vol.4, p.422). The print after Girtin’s watercolour is not helped by the omission of the male and female figures, presumably part of Langton’s family if not the man himself, together with an area of the vegetation that encroached on the view of the house, with the result that the image more than ever resembles the sort of ‘insipid’ architectural elevation from which Girtin presumably had to work. The hall, located in Langton by Spilsby, was demolished in 1822, so Girtin’s view and the print after it at least have the merit of being useful records of its appearance.

Howlett’s Views in the County of Lincoln is typical of the numerous topographical publications of the period that assembled, often over a long period (in this case 1797–1805), a collection of engravings of modest size and decent competency with a brief text for each. The text was published at the end of the run, allowing the subscribers, who had paid three shillings for each of its twenty-five numbers, to have the material bound together in book form. Girtin’s contributions to the publication, like those of his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) and the ten or so other professional artists who were involved, were a mix of original compositions, works produced from the sketches of amateurs, small-scale drawings commissioned by the publisher and larger compositions lent by patrons of the arts. The first owner of this drawing, Buckler, was one of the artists who provided Howlett with drawings for engraving, and it is possible that it was one of his own sketches that Girtin used as the basis for his watercolour. The engraving was one of the first of the Lincolnshire prints to be published, and the fact that uniquely for Girtin’s contributions it was dated, one of only five dated drawings by the artist from 1796, suggests that Buckler was the catalyst for his involvement in the project.


Lincoln Cathedral, from the West


1794 - 1795

Lincoln, from the Brayford Pool


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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