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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

Legburthwaite Vale

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0361: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Legburthwaite Vale, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card), 7.6 × 11.8 cm, 3 × 4 ⅝ in. British Museum, London (1938,1112.7).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Legburthwaite Vale
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card)
7.6 × 11.8 cm, 3 × 4 ⅝ in
Object Type
Monro School Copy
Subject Terms
The Lake District

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Edward J. D. Paul; his untraced sale, 27 June 1896; Richard Johnson; his sale, Sotheby’s, 13 June 1934, lot 11 as 'A set of six small water-colour Drawings' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by 'Finberg', £3 10s; Cotswold Gallery, London; bought from them, 1938, as by Edward Dayes


Wilton, 1984a, p.23

About this Work

Legburthwaite Vale

This view of Legburthwaite Vale, near Thirlmere in the Lake District, is likely to have been amongst the sixty ‘Coloured Drawings on Cards’ sold from the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 7 May 1808, lots 60 and 61; Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 80–83). A group of the cards was bought by Girtin’s collaborator at Monro’s home, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), and they now form part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. This watercolour was until fairly recently attributed to Edward Dayes (1763–1804), but, as with the majority of the ‘Coloured Drawings’ in the Turner Bequest, it is, as Andrew Wilton has persuasively argued, clearly the work of Girtin (Wilton, 1984a, p.23). The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were executed around 1795–96 after a set of outline drawings of subjects that Girtin could not have sketched at first hand and that he copied mainly from the outlines of his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). This example, however, is one of a group of landscape views that, though painted in the same format, derive from the sketches of Dayes, who, unlike his one-time apprentice, certainly visited the Lake District and made numerous sketches of its renowned scenery. Some of these were actually used by Girtin as the basis for his earliest watercolours, around 1791–92, including Lake Windermere and Belle Isle (TG0078). Three or four years later, Girtin would no longer have had direct access to Dayes’ studio and his sketches, but Monro owned a significant group of Dayes’ drawings, and in all probability it was these that provided Girtin with subjects from a region that he was never to visit. Monro’s posthumous sale included various lots of Dayes’ ‘Views on the lakes’ that were described as ‘blue and Indian ink sketches’ (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 1 July 1833, lot 42), suggesting not only that Girtin’s lake scenes were made in the patron’s home but also that they were from the sketchiest materials rather than fully worked watercolours, as in Legburthwaite Vale (see figure 1). Another view by Dayes of Legburthwaite Vale, formerly in the collection of Arthur Acland Allen (1868–1939) and now probably the work in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (60/8), which is in blue and grey wash, may have come from Monro’s collection. This is the sort of sketch that was probably Girtin’s source, albeit at one remove, as he is likely to have produced a pencil outline as an intermediary stage in the process.

It is possible that Monro may have had a publication in mind when he commissioned Girtin to produce small-scale watercolours such as this, but their rapid, even careless execution and sketch-like appearance, suggesting that the work was made on the spot, indicate an altogether different kind of commodity. Indeed, the subjects that were chosen for this informal sketch-like treatment do not follow any obvious pattern, either by geography or building type, that might have made for a thematically unified publication. It may be that there is nothing that unites the group other than that Girtin’s outlines after the sketches of Moore, Dayes and others provided a ready resource from which sketch-like watercolours might be rapidly produced.

1791 - 1792

Lake Windermere and Belle Isle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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