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Works Thomas Girtin

Newcastle upon Tyne

1796 - 1797

Primary Image: TG1081: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Newcastle upon Tyne, 1796–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 11.1 × 16.5 cm, 4 ⅜ × 6 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, Agnew's, London (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Newcastle, upon Tyne' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.3, no.66, pl.131, 1 July 1797, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.65, 1854. British Museum, London (1862,0712.891).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
1796 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
11.1 × 16.5 cm, 4 ⅜ × 6 ½ in

‘Girtin’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Newcastle’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; Durham and Northumberland; River Scenery

Newcastle-upon-Tyne (TG1080)
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (TG1082)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
160ii as 'Newcastle upon Tyne'; '1796'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Possibly Foster’s, 28 May 1890, lot 71 as 'Panoramic view of Newcastle-on-Tyne'; Sotheby's, 25 July 1904, lot 142; bought by 'Dr King', £13; ... L. Adamson; then by descent to the Misses Adamson; Norman Dakeyne Newall (1888–1952); his widow, Leslia Newall (d.1979); Christie’s, 13 December 1979, lot 39; bought by 'Ivy, £7,000'; Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1988

Exhibition History

Newcastle, 1953, no.46 (lent by ’Mrs Norman D. Newall’); Agnew’s, 1953a, no.49; Agnew’s, 1988, no.21


Kennedy, 1998, p.137

About this Work

This is the earlier of two watercolours showing a panoramic view of Newcastle upon Tyne (the other being TG1082) that were produced from an on-the-spot colour sketch (TG1080) dating from Girtin’s first independent tour, to the northern counties and the Scottish Borders in 1796. The view, taken from an eminence on the north bank of the river Tyne, looking west, was well calculated to display a range of the city’s main architectural monuments, both old and new, along with a view of the river, the source of its growing wealth. From left to right, the horizon is dominated successively by the tower of St Mary’s in Gateshead, the Norman castle, All Saints’ Church (which was then in the process of being built) and the open spire of the church of St Nicholas to the right. The last of these, now the cathedral, was the subject of another watercolour by Girtin, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798 (TG1460).

The watercolour is one of four subjects studied on Girtin’s 1796 tour that were engraved by John Walker (active 1776–1802) for his publication The Copper-Plate Magazine (see the print after, above), the others being views of Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland (see the print after TG1459), Warkworth (see the print after TG1099) and Richmond (see print the after TG1067) (Walker, 1792–1802). The engraving of Newcastle is dated 1 July 1797, meaning that Girtin must have produced this watercolour soon after his return, and it may be that a commission from Walker to produce images for his monthly publication helped to finance the trip, not least because the drawing and the print share the same dimensions.1 The print also follows the watercolour closely, excepting one intriguing detail that confirms that Girtin worked from an on-the-spot sketch rather than copying another source, as had hitherto commonly been the case with his work for the print trade. The steeple of the church of All Saints, which was not finished in 1796, when the artist made his sketch, was nonetheless so close to completion that Walker chose to show it in its final form in an engraving dating from just a few months later. The text that accompanies the print is also of some significance, emphasising the fact that Newcastle boasted an enviable range of points of interest, both for ‘the antiquary’ and for those concerned with the city’s ‘commerce’ and its place as ‘the greatest emporium in the north of England’ (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.3, no.66, pl.131). Such is this emphasis that one cannot help but wonder whether the publisher himself stipulated Girtin’s viewpoint for its capacity to represent the widest range of the city’s commercial, industrial and civic monuments, and that, as was noted in the text, the port and its crucial role in the coal trade were a particular focus.

1799 - 1800



(?) 1796



(?) 1798

St Nicholas’ Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne



Bamburgh Castle, from the Village


1796 - 1797

The Bridge at Warkworth, with the Castle Beyond


1796 - 1797

Richmond Castle and Town, from the South East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 Another watercolour of the same view and dimensions appeared on the art market in 1962 when it was suggested that it was the basis of the print (Manning Gallery, 1962, no.7). The work has not been traced and  no image appears to exist.

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