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Works Thomas Girtin

Mickleham Church

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0351: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Mickleham Church, 1795–96 and 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 18.8 × 24.7 cm, 7 ⅜ × 10 in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1963.89.34).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
Title
  • Mickleham Church
Date
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
Dimensions
18.8 × 24.7 cm, 7 ⅜ × 10 in
Inscription

'Girtin' lower left, on the back

Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work; Monro School Copy; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Surrey View; Unidentified Topographical View

Collection
Versions
Mickleham Church (TG0860)
Catalogue Number
TG0351
Girtin & Loshak Number
124ii as 'Unfinished'; 'c. 1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018

Provenance

Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); Archdeacon Charles Parr Burney (1785–1864); then by descent to Rosetta d’Arblay Wood (née Burney) (1814–1910); then by descent to Edith Mary Burke Powell (Lady Powell, née Wood) (1848–1934); Sir Bruce Stirling Ingram (1877–1963); bought by the Museum, 1963

Exhibition History

Colnaghi’s, 1956, no.57; Oxford, 1963, no.34

Bibliography

Brown, 1982, p.333, no.726 as 'c.1800'

About this Work

This view of the church of St Michael and All Angels in Mickleham in Surrey is one of two watercolours showing the building from the north east (the other being TG0860). The other, which is slightly larger, was bought at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), who produced it in around 1795–96 in collaboration with Girtin, who, as far as one can be certain in such cases, provided the pencil outline for his colleague to add simple washes of blues and greys. In contrast, this watercolour is almost certainly the sole work of Girtin and was catalogued as such by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, who dated it to 1800, suggesting that it was ‘unfinished’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.151). Initially, I thought something similar, and I associated the work with a group of Surrey subjects that appear to have been sketched on a visit to Monro’s country retreat at nearby Fetcham, including two other churches from the same locality – at Effingham (TG0345) and Capel (TG0857). However, it increasingly looks likely that both of the views of Mickleham church were, like the vast majority of the works produced by Girtin and Turner for Monro, copied from another source (see comparative image TG0860). The aquatint depicting the church at Mickleham certainly differs in a number of respects from the two watercolours, but I suspect that this stems from the fact that the model from which the print was made was worked up by Joseph Charles Barrow (c.1759–1804) from an untraced sketch by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), who provided the bases for many of Girtin’s early topographical views. These include at least a dozen of the views that Girtin produced for Monro, amongst which is Kidwelly Church (see TG0264 figure 1), which was also engraved for Picturesque Views of Churches (Barrow, 1791–93). If the source of Mickleham Church were in the work of an amateur, it would help to explain the poor perspective seen in both versions of the composition.

If this is correct, and this work is not the outcome of Girtin’s visit to the Surrey countryside, then we need to adjust the status of the drawing as well as the date proposed by Girtin and Loshak. I suspect the key here is Girtin’s practice of sometimes making replicas of the drawings he copied at Monro’s home, presumably so as to keep a version for his own use whilst the first outline was handed over to Turner to colour. One example of this practice is found in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Beached Vessels in Dover Harbour (TG0838 and TG0812), whilst Dartford High Street (TG0843 and TG0844) is another. In this case, however, Girtin himself went on to add a series of colour washes, which, as with Dover Castle, Seen from the Beach (TG0263), effectively turn a pencil outline into a colour sketch. Precisely when Girtin added the colour is impossible to say, but I suspect that it was before the 1800 date suggested by Girtin and Loshak, and that we are probably looking at two different dates for this work, say 1795 and 1798, with the latter marking the decision to convert a simple outline into a more saleable commodity.

1794 - 1797

Mickleham Church

TG0860

1797 - 1798

Effingham Church

TG0345

1797 - 1798

Capel Church

TG0857

1794 - 1797

Mickleham Church

TG0860

1795 - 1796

Beached Vessels in Dover Harbour, the Castle in the Distance

TG0838

1795 - 1796

Beached Vessels in Dover Harbour, the Castle in the Distance

TG0812

1795 - 1796

Dartford High Street

TG0843

1795 - 1796

Dartford High Street

TG0844

1795 - 1796

Dover Castle, Seen from the Beach

TG0263

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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