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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Old London Bridge, with the Shot Tower in Construction, and St Olave's Church

1796 - 1797


(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Old London Bridge, with the Shot Tower in Construction, and St Olave's Church
1796 - 1797
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
35.6 × 46 cm, 14 × 18 ⅛ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
London and Environs; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Sotheby's, 18 February 1952, lot 67

About this Work

Old London Bridge

This view of Old London Bridge with the Shot Tower under construction appeared at auction in 1952, but it has not been possible to trace a photograph of the watercolour and there must be grave doubts about its attribution to Girtin. We have a reasonable idea of its appearance because of what appears to be a copy by the amateur artist John Henderson (1764–1843), an early patron of Girtin, which is in the collection of The Whitworth, Manchester (see figure 1). This was published in 1924 as by Girtin himself, but it is surely a work by the amateur, and it appeared as such in the sale of one of his descendants (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 15 February 1882, lot 133). The copy, if that is what it is, actually employs a more panoramic composition than the untraced watercolour, and it may be for that reason, as much as its quality, that Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak did not include it in their catalogue of Girtin’s work (Girtin and Loshak, 1954). In the absence of any photographic evidence, we must assume that the earlier attribution to Girtin depended primarily on its subject matter and its superficial resemblance to later Thames views painted in preparation for the Eidometropolis, the artist’s London panorama taken from near Blackfriars Bridge. A smaller version of the subject attributed to Girtin, but again with no known image, was sold at auction in 1925 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 3 July 1925, lot 9).

Henderson’s copy of the view of Old London Bridge may help with the attribution of another Thames view that has been erroneously attributed to Girtin. The work, known as Warehouse and Shipping at Wapping (TG0165), seems much closer to the amateur’s work than the alternative suggestion – that it is the work of Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804).

1794 - 1795

Warehouse and Shipping at Wapping


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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