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Works Thomas Girtin

Mountain Scenery, Said to Be near Beddgelert (page 15, reverse, of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1323: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Mountain Scenery, Said to Be near Beddgelert, 1800–01, graphite on wove paper, 14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1977.15.14).

Photo courtesy of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Photo by Michael Pollard (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Mountain Scenery, Said to Be near Beddgelert (page 15, reverse, of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in

‘28’ lower left; ‘2’ top left; 'Bedgellert' on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; North Wales

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
362 as 'Mountain Scene (probably near Beddgelert)'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and 2022


Sale at Platt Vicarage, Rusholme, Manchester, 1898; sketchbook bought by Shepherd; then by descent to F. W. Shepherd; his sale, Sotheby’s, 7 July 1977, lot 46; bought by Baskett and Day; bought by the Gallery, 1977


Hardie, 1938–39, no.3, p.92 as 'Mountain Scenery'

About this Work

This slight sketch of mountain scenery has been described as showing a scene near Beddgelert in Snowdonia, on the basis of its proximity in the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600–1625) to The Valley of the Glaslyn (TG1324) and because of the inscription on the back, and, moreover, that it dates from 1800 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.183). However, the word ‘Bedgellert’ probably refers to the next image in the book and the paper on which it is drawn appears to be part of a gathering of sheets that includes a ‘1801’ watermark (TG1601), which is actually a copy of an earlier sketch made on the spot (TG1525). Such are the complexities of the make-up and function of the Book of Drawings that it is rarely possible to be sure about anything, but in this case I think it is safe to assume that this drawing was not, as Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak suggested, ‘Done on the spot’ in 1800, and that it is not evidence for a second visit to Wales in that year (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.183).

To understand why a sketch of a Welsh subject in a gathering of drawings from later in Girtin’s career is not indicative of an otherwise undocumented return trip to North Wales we need to know a little more about the complex, hybrid nature of the Book of Drawings. The book, which I have deliberately not referred to as a sketchbook, contains a number of different papers that, from their watermarks and arrangement within the binding, indicate that it includes a mix of copies from earlier works as well as sketches made on the spot at different times. Girtin executed the latter on a gathering of sheets of paper that he appears to have made up himself, probably around 1800, but also on separate pieces, which, given the fact that the end paper has a watermark of ‘1803’, must have been bound in after the artist’s death. This, I suspect, was done at the behest of the artist’s brother John Girtin (1773–1821) who appropriated material from the artist’s studio after his death including ‘4 little Books partly of sketches and partly blank paper’, a combination that accords with the unusual makeup of the book (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1

It follows from this that this sketch could indeed be a Welsh subject drawn on the spot in 1798 and that the sheet was added to others by Girtin in an informal gathering that had not assumed its final form. However, the more likely scenario given the sheet’s position within the Book of Drawings is that Girtin around 1800 made a partial copy of an earlier Welsh view and did not develop it to the same degree as The Valley of the Glaslyn (TG1324). The frustrating thing with our current state of knowledge about the ‘book’ is that although the second option is the likelier explanation for a Welsh subject, it is equally possible that the drawing actually depicts a Yorkshire scene and that its incomplete state is indicative of a rapid sketch made on the spot around 1800.

1800 - 1801

The Valley of the Glaslyn, near Beddgelert


(?) 1801

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea


1799 - 1800

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea


1800 - 1801

The Valley of the Glaslyn, near Beddgelert


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 John Girtin lists this amongst the contents of his brother's studio. Details are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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