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Works Thomas Girtin after Thomas Malton the Younger

London: St George’s, Hanover Square

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0872: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804), London: St George's, Hanover Square, (?) 1795, watercolour on wove paper, 35.9 × 34.2 cm, 14 ⅛ × 13 ⅜ in. British Museum, London (1878,1228.25).

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

Artist's source: Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804), etching and aquatint, 'St. Georges Hanover Square', 21 February 1787, 38 × 53.2 cm, 15 × 21 in. British Museum, London (1878,1228.170).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Thomas Malton the Younger (1748-1804)
  • London: St George’s, Hanover Square
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Watercolour on wove paper
35.9 × 34.2 cm, 14 ⅛ × 13 ⅜ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
115 as '1795'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2017


John Henderson (1764–1843); then by descent to John Henderson II (1797–1878) (lent to London, 1875); bequeathed to the Museum, 1878

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.131; London, 1953a, no.37


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.97; Davies, 1924, pl.4; Adams, 1983, p.172

About this Work

This view of the architecturally significant church of St George in the fashionable new residential area of Hanover Square was copied from an aquatint by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804) (see the source image above) and was executed for one of Girtin’s most important early patrons, the amateur artist John Henderson (1764–1843). Girtin first came across Henderson at the home of another crucial early patron, Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where he was employed, together with his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), to produce watercolour copies after the outline drawings of many artists, including shipping scenes by Henderson himself. Latterly, Henderson engaged Girtin to produce a series of watercolour copies after prints in his own collection, including groups by modern British artists such as Thomas Hearne (1744–1817) (such as TG0867) and European masters such as Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) (1697–1768) (such as TG0898). This view of the grand portico and tower of St George’s is one of four watercolours that Henderson commissioned from Girtin after prints featured in a series of twelve London scenes published by Malton between 1781 and 1787 that were a precursor to his better-known publication A Picturesque Tour through the Cities of London and Westminster (Malton, 1792–1801). All four of Girtin’s watercolours are now in the collection of the British Museum, to which they were bequeathed by Henderson’s son along with the prints on which they are based.

Girtin’s earliest copies for Henderson tended to be fairly mechanical affairs; however, by around 1796, when the Malton copies appear to have been produced, the artist was operating with a greater degree of licence. In this case, Girtin cut the composition to the left to create a more compact square format that matches, and forms a pair with, the view of the Mansion House (TG0870). Malton was an architectural draughtsman rather than a landscape topographer, and his London views focus on the city’s outstanding buildings with angles chosen carefully to display their most important features. In this case, the imposing classical portico, one of the first to form the facade of a London parish church (built 1720–25), and the building’s impressive tower are made more central and brought closer to the viewer by Girtin’s changes to the composition to create what Malton described as a ‘very grand and picturesque’ and ‘agreeable assemblage of perspective beauty’ (Malton, 1792–1801, vol.1, p.106). Malton was also careful to populate his street scenes with a range of figures and carriage traffic, but, whilst Girtin was content to copy the distribution of light shown in the print, he took care to change and update his figures so that they wear the fashions of the mid-1790s and not those of 1787, the date of Malton’s print. Amongst Girtin’s additions are a soldier in uniform, referencing the war with revolutionary France that had broken out in the intervening period, together with a group of itinerant salesmen, who noticeably extend the social range of the figures featured by Malton. Copying the prints of Malton for Henderson could have been little more than hack work for Girtin, but the watercolours collectively display a concern and interest with the street life of the artist’s native city that was to characterise his whole career, as seen in views ranging from the places he lived in London (such as TG1395) to the panorama of the capital that dominated his last years (see, for example, TG1851). Indeed, Girtin may have already depicted the church in Hanover Square. A lost drawing, probably by the young artist, was engraved for Charles Taylor’s (1756–1823) publication The Temple of Taste (see print after TG0032), and the location was to come to have personal significance as it was here in October 1800 that the artist married Mary Ann Borrett (1781–1843).

On a technical note, the paper historian Peter Bower has identified the support employed by Girtin as a white wove drawing paper, probably manufactured by James Whatman the Younger (1741–98) at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent (Bower, Report). This is the same paper used for two of the other watercolours made for Henderson from aquatints by Malton (TG0870 and TG0871).

(?) 1795

Lanercost Priory Church: An Interior View of the Ruins from the South Transept


1797 - 1798

Venice: The Grand Canal, from Santa Maria della Carità, Looking to San Marco Basin


1795 - 1796

London: The Mansion House


1796 - 1797

St Paul’s Cathedral, from St Martin’s-le-Grand


(?) 1801

The Albion Mills: Colour Study for the ‘Eidometropolis’, Section One


1790 - 1791

St George’s Church, Hanover Square


1795 - 1796

London: The Mansion House


1795 - 1796

London: The Royal Exchange


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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