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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

Marlow, from across the River Thames

(?) 1791

Primary Image: TG0054: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Marlow, from across the River Thames, (?) 1791, graphite and watercolour on paper, 10 × 14.5 cm, 4 × 5 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Marlow, from across the River Thames
(?) 1791
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
10 × 14.5 cm, 4 × 5 ¾ in

'Marlow' on the back of the original mount

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Buckinghamshire View; River Scenery; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2002


R. B. Gooden; Lord Roderick Gordon; Sotheby’s, 9 March 1989, lot 51, £6,380; Sotheby’s, 28 November 2002b, lot 254, £6,572

About this Work

This watercolour is dated to 1791, and the period of Girtin’s apprenticeship to Edward Dayes (1763–1804), on the basis of an old inscription recorded by its first known owner, R. B. Gooden. It reads ‘Great Marlow by Thomas Girtin 1791. The original autograph of Girtin’s was taken off by Vokins of Gt. Portland St who had the drawing to clean in 1891 and lost.’ Were it not for the inscription, such an early date might not have immediately suggested itself. The high quality of the work and its good condition appear, initially at least, beyond the abilities of a sixteen-year-old apprentice. However, weaknesses in the perspective of the buildings, and the wooden bridge in particular, recall the struggles that Girtin had with the composition of Eton College, from the River (TG0013), and the Thames, which is quite wide at this point, occupies too constricted a space and consequently the buildings merge into each other though they are on different banks. It is unlikely that such an error would have been perpetrated by someone who had visited Marlow; therefore, since there is no question of a young apprentice being able to travel to Buckinghamshire at such an early age, it is clear that the watercolour was made after a sketch by another artist. Dayes produced a number of watercolours of scenes in and around Marlow, one of which also includes a similar group of eel traps (Leeds Art Gallery (5.92/52)). Given that Girtin used at least one of them as the basis for a later view (TG0237), it is likely that this work too was based on an untraced sketch by his master.

The picturesque assemblage of buildings on the river Thames at Marlow is shown looking north west. From here, the old wooden bridge crosses the river with the church of All Saints rising above and a foreground featuring the traditional willow eel traps. Both the church and the bridge were rebuilt in the nineteenth century, the latter at a slightly different angle, which means that it is not possible to recreate the particular combination of bridge and church in Marlow today. Such a picturesque combination seems to have been popular with patrons, and the riverside town reappears in a number of Girtin’s earliest works (such as TG0344).


Eton College, from the River


1792 - 1793

All Saints’ Church, Marlow


1795 - 1796

A Distant View of Marlow, from the River Thames


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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