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Works Thomas Girtin

Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond


Primary Image: TG1508: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond, 1799, graphite on wove paper, 14.4 × 20.5 cm, 5 ⅝ × 8 ⅛ in. Leeds Art Gallery (13.113/53).

Photo courtesy of Leeds City Art Gallery (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
14.4 × 20.5 cm, 5 ⅝ × 8 ⅛ in

‘T Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Middleham’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin; ‘T G 1799’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; The Village; Yorkshire View

Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond (TG1620)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
312i as 'Middleham, Yorkshire'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and February 2020


Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1946; bought by Norman Darnton Lupton; Agnes Lupton (1874–1950) and Norman Darnton Lupton (1875–1953); bequeathed to the Gallery, 1953


Mayne, 1949, p.54; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.38–39

About this Work

This unassuming sketch of the village of Middleham in Wensleydale is of some significance because, as one of only a handful of examples where Girtin dated an on-the-spot drawing, it provides a crucial reference point for the artist’s trip to Yorkshire in 1799. Amongst the thirty or so watercolours that Girtin produced for Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835) in 1800, there are views of at least seven Yorkshire locations that the artist did not visit in 1796. From this, together with the dated drawing of Middleham and other related sketches, it is possible to at least outline his progress through the county in 1799. Based at least for some part of the time at Harewood House, the home of arguably his most important patron, Edward Lascelles (1764–1814), Girtin appears to have visited Hawes, Ripon, Knaresborough and Wetherby, making sketches from which a series of important watercolours were painted, though no view of Middleham was ever produced. Presumably, a view of the market cross and a row of nondescript buildings – with the spectacular ruins of the castle that had formed the subject of his earlier watercolour for Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) relegated to the distance (TG0279) – was not what prospective patrons wanted. 

The fact that this drawing is dated 1799 is significant for another reason, however. The Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600–1625) includes another version of the drawing (TG1620), which, because it is executed on paper with an 1801 watermark, can conclusively be shown to be a replica of this on-the-spot sketch. Indeed, overlaying images of the two drawings, which have the same dimensions, indicates that the Whitworth version was traced from this sketch, as every feature matches exactly, down to the detail of the blacksmith shoeing a horse. Girtin’s willingness to create a replica of his on-the-spot sketch, combined with the fact that he clearly added the signature and the inscription after the drawing’s completion, helps to create a compelling narrative for both works. Thus, it seems that Girtin found a buyer for his original sketch and, wishing to keep a record from which he might produce finished watercolours, he replicated his drawing and inscribed and signed the original for the benefit of the purchaser, adding a pencil line border at the same time. Given that at least one other pencil outline in the Book of Drawings was also copied from an on-the-spot sketch (TG1601), it is therefore likely that the other view of Middleham on the next page (TG1619), showing the castle in a landscape setting, records another untraced drawing made in the village in 1799. 

Image Overlay

1795 - 1796

Part of the Ruins of Middleham Castle


(?) 1801

Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond


(?) 1801

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea


(?) 1799

A Distant View of Middleham Castle, with the River Ure in the Foreground


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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