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Works Thomas Girtin

On the River Exe, Exeter

(?) 1797


Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • On the River Exe, Exeter
(?) 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
22.2 × 32.4 cm, 8 ¾ × 12 ¾ in


Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Panoramic Format; River Scenery; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

On the River Exe, Exeter (TG1261)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
201i as 'On the Exe, near Exeter'
Description Source(s)
Girtin and Loshak, 1954


Henry Melville Gaskell (1879–1954), by 1929

About this Work

This sketch of a view on the river Exe at Exeter, taken from Haven Bank, was executed on Girtin’s West Country tour in the autumn of 1797. The artist is documented as having been in the city in early November when he sketched the interior of the cathedral as preparation for a major watercolour commissioned by his earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99) (TG1256) (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804).1 At the same time, the artist also made a drawing of the sixteenth-century Guildhall (TG1255) as well as a number of views along the river Exe, which were to yield three different compositions in the form of large watercolours (TG1258, TG1259 and TG1261). The last of these, the watercolour that resulted from this pencil sketch, is the most panoramic of the river views, encompassing a wide extent of the river looking west to the old bridge, with the industrial area of Shilhay on the east bank to the right. In contrast to the focus on the medieval heart of the city, which Moore’s commission prompted from Girtin, this drawing carefully records a range of warehouses and other industrial buildings, together with their attendant shipping, to create an image of the modern port that has much in common with the views of Bristol that were such an important part of the second half of the artist’s West Country tour.


The Interior of Exeter Cathedral, Looking from the Nave


(?) 1797

The Guildhall, Exeter


1798 - 1799

Exeter, from Trew’s Weir


1798 - 1799

Exeter Cathedral, from the South


1799 - 1800

On the River Exe, Exeter


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The financial records of the artist's brother John Girtin (1773–1821) include two loans he made to Thomas Girtin during the trip. The records are transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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