For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin after Thomas Malton the Younger

London: The Mansion House

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0870: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804), London: The Mansion House, 1795–96, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 36.4 × 34.4 cm, 14 ⅜ × 13 ½ in. British Museum, London (1878,1228.24).

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 Mansion House', 27 February 1783, 37 × 50.5 cm, 14 ½ × 19 ⅞ in. British Museum, London (1878,1228.169).

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 Mansion House
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
36.4 × 34.4 cm, 14 ⅜ × 13 ½ 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
116 as '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.129; London, 1953a, no.32; London, 1965a, no.38; Manchester, 1975, no.13; Louisville, 1977, no.41; London, 2002, no.101


Stokes, 1922, p.25; Mayne, 1949, p.96; Adams, 1983, p.171

About this Work

This view of the Mansion House in London, the official residence of the Lord Mayor, 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 Mansion House 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 right to create a more compact square format that matches, and forms a pair with, his view of St George’s, Hanover Square (TG0872). 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 example, the magnificent portico of the Mansion House is actually given greater prominence as a result of Girtin’s change to the composition. Malton was also careful to populate his street scenes with a range of figures and carriage traffic, including a prominent view of the Lord Mayor’s carriage. The latter, alone, was retained by Girtin, who was otherwise careful to change and update his figures so that they wear the fashions of the mid-1790s and not those of 1783, the date of Malton’s print. Amongst Girtin’s additions are a soldier in uniform, departing to a war that had broken out in the intervening period, together with a beggar, who might also reference current events. Girtin retained one sign of the city’s labouring classes, however, moving the porter shown at the centre of Malton’s composition to the pavement, but otherwise leaving his timeless costume unchanged. 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).

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) (Smith, 2002b, p.128; Bower, Report). This is the same paper used for two of the other watercolours made for Henderson from aquatints by Malton (TG0871 and TG0872).

(?) 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

London: St George’s, Hanover Square


1796 - 1797

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


(?) 1801

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


1795 - 1796

London: The Royal Exchange


(?) 1795

London: St George’s, Hanover Square


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.