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Works Thomas Girtin after Thomas Malton the Younger

London: The Bank from the Mansion House, with St Christopher-le-Stocks

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG1466: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804), London: The Bank from the Mansion House, with St Christopher-le-Stocks, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 32.5 × 47.4 cm, 12 ¾ × 18 ⅝ in. British Museum, London (1878,1228.31).

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, 'The Bank', 1 October 1781, 36.2 × 49.5 cm, 14 ¼ × 19 ½ in. British Museum, London (1880,1113.3641).

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: The Bank from the Mansion House, with St Christopher-le-Stocks
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
32.5 × 47.4 cm, 12 ¾ × 18 ⅝ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Unfinished Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
114 as 'Cornhill and the Bank in 1795'; '1795'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


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.128 as 'Cornhill and the Bank in 1795'


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.96 as 'Cornhill and the Bank in 1795'

About this Work

This unfinished view of the south facade of the Bank of England from the Mansion House, with the tower of St Christopher-le-Stocks prominent in the centre, was copied from an aquatint by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804) (see the source image above) and was conceived as part of a group of watercolours 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 Sir Robert Taylor’s (1714–88) long-demolished south facade of the bank, with another lost building, St Bartholomew Exchange, 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.

The watercolour in its unfinished state holds considerable interest for students of Girtin’s watercolour technique in the mid-1790s, showing the way in which the artist blocked out the general forms of the architecture in grey and straw colours, prior to the addition of further tones to add in the detail. The highlights are left untouched, therefore, as are the spaces for the figures, which would have been added in last of all. It is not clear why Girtin abandoned the work, especially since, as it was a copy, there could be no question of the artist being unhappy with the composition. One possible explanation may lie with the figures, which, unlike those in the other watercolours after Malton’s prints – including the view of the Mansion House, from where this prospect was taken (TG0870) – were copied exactly from the aquatint. Thus, whilst Girtin was otherwise careful to add to the staffage and to change the costumes of the figures that he retained, so that they dressed according to the fashions of the mid-1790s, here he reproduced a street scene of 1781, the date of the original print’s publication. The sense of anomaly was no doubt heightened by the fact that, unlike the other London watercolours made for Henderson from Malton, the view from the Mansion House had altered radically in the intervening period. During the Gordon Riots in 1780, troops were garrisoned in the church of St Christopher-le-Stocks to protect the Bank of England. Though the attack was repulsed, the events displayed the bank’s vulnerability and, following a petition, Sir Christopher Wren’s (1632–1723) church was demolished in 1782. If Girtin’s versions of Malton’s prints of the Mansion House and the Royal Exchange (TG0871) were essentially about creating modern street scenes, then a view of a Wren city church fifteen years after its demolition simply did not work.

The sense that this work does not fit with the rest of the group of Malton copies (TG1870, TG1871 and TG1872) is not just down to its incompleteness, however. Unlike the other watercolours, which employ the same wove drawing paper, Girtin here worked on a more characteristic laid paper, producing an image that is actually slightly larger than his model. Moreover, although the drawing was also owned by Henderson, the Malton print on which it was based was not included in his son’s bequest to the British Museum. It may be the case, therefore, that the group of Malton watercolours only ever numbered three works, with this one as a false start.



(?) 1795

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1797 - 1798

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The Tuileries Palace and the Pont Royal: Pencil Study for Plate Six of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’



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by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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