Girtin and Loshak dated the work to 1796, but knowing the identity of the building suggests an earlier date and establishes the fact that the watercolour must have been made after the drawing of another artist, as Girtin did not travel beyond the Borders on his trips to Scotland (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.154). An earlier date is supported by stylistic evidence, with the building itself bounded by an inflexible penned outline and the foliage rendered very schematically. The patterning on the bank in the foreground and the treatment of the water are more characteristic of the young Girtin, whilst the form of the signature allays any doubts about the attribution. It has not been possible to identify the source of Girtin’s image, though the antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), Girtin’s earliest patron, is one possibility. On his 1792 Scottish trip he drew Duff House and commissioned two watercolours of it from Girtin (TG0108 and TG0184), but there are no records of any view of Melville in his collection. A more probable scenario is that a young Girtin was commissioned to produce a finished watercolour from the sketch of an amateur for engraving and that, for whatever reason, it was not published.
Chalfont House, from the North East, with Fishermen Netting the Broadwater
The North Front of Chalfont Lodge, Seen from the Lake
1792 - 1793
Duff House, from the South
Duff House, from the River