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Works Thomas Girtin

Part of the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre (Place du Carrousel)

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1893: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Part of the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre (Place du Carrousel), 1801–1802, watercolour on laid paper, 38.2 × 31.5 cm, 15 × 12 ⅜ in. The Higgins, Bedford (P.273).

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Part of the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre (Place du Carrousel)
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Watercolour on laid paper
38.2 × 31.5 cm, 15 × 12 ⅜ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; Paris and Environs; The View from Above

Part of the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre (Place du Carrousel) (TG1894)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Sotheby’s, 10 December 1958, lot 43a; bought by P & D Colnaghi & Co., £210; bought by the Gallery, 1958

Exhibition History

London, 1962c, no.376; Agnew’s, 1962, no.18; London, 1962b, no.30; Reading, 1965, no.20; Norwich, 1965, no.16; London, 2002, no.176; London, 2013, no.3; Petworth, 2016, no.29


Hawcroft, 1975, p.15; Joll, 2002, p.123

About this Work

This view of part of the Tuileries Palace seen across the Place du Carrousel replicates the composition of a watercolour that, with its date of 1801 (TG1894), may have been sketched on the spot at the very beginning of Girtin’s trip to Paris. Crucially for our understanding of the subject, that work has an inscription on the back that identifies the focus of Girtin’s interest: ‘Part of the Thuilleries palace where Buonaparte resides the house of Lucien Buonoparte and the house blown up by the infernal machine’. The Tuileries Palace, which was destroyed during the Paris Commune in 1871, was located between the two arms of the Louvre and at this time was inhabited by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). In this view looking west over the Place du Carrousel, part of its facade is visible in the centre, with the house of Lucien Bonaparte (1775–1840), the First Consul’s brother, in the centre, whilst the remnants of the building destroyed by the explosion are shown in the foreground. As Napoleon’s home, the Tuileries was a magnet for British travellers, who sought out every detail about the First Consul, not least those relating to the notorious assassination attempt of 24 December 1800. The massive bomb – the ‘infernal machine’ – killed and injured a large number of people and caused much damage around the palace, though Napoleon himself escaped unhurt. The men shown working in the foreground are therefore clearing away the damage a year after an event that not surprisingly engaged Girtin’s attention in the first days after his arrival in Paris, not least because he took lodgings in the nearby Rue de Malte. The palace also saw one of the most important events of the French Revolution, the arrest of the royal family in 1792. However, whilst few visitors could look on the building without reflecting on the violent events of ‘the 10th of August’ and their ultimate consequence – bloody regicide – Girtin concentrated on something more immediately newsworthy, adding an element of reportage that is uncharacteristic of his approach to the urban landscape (Shepherd, 1814, p.42).

Girtin’s watercolour is not dated, and there is no way of knowing whether it, like the other version of the composition, was painted in Paris. Girtin returned to London late in April 1802, taking with him the sketches he had made during his stay of just over five months. However, according to the actor Joseph Munden (1758–1832), who was an avid collector of watercolours, he had also previously sent works back to Britain. Munden recorded that ‘Girtin sent him over from Paris, by [Thomas] Holcroft, one of the last of his productions’ and one can well imagine that such a combination of topography and current events as seen here would have been of considerable interest to a British audience (Munden, 1844, p.57). Sadly, the work has faded and some of its original impact has been lost, though the subject and the carefully detailed activities of the working figures offer compensations. The predominantly grey tones of the sky are a result of the change in the work’s condition, therefore, rather than being an effort by the artist to capture the effect of a dull mid-winter day.


Part of the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre (Place du Carrousel)


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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