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Works Thomas Girtin

Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate


Primary Image: TG0372: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate, 1796, graphite and watercolour on paper, on an original washline mount, 10.5 × 16.5 cm, 4 ⅛ × 6 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper, on an original washline mount
10.8 × 16.5 cm, 4 ¼ × 6 ½ in

‘Girtin 96’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; 'Pegwell Bay / nr Ramsgate’ on the back, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2004


Sotheby’s, 26 March 2004, lot 105, £12,000; Martyn Gregory Ltd; bought by George and Patti White, February 2005; lent to Harvard Art Museums, 2023 (5.2023.2)

About this Work

This signed and dated watercolour showing Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate on the Kent coast, is based on a drawing by the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99) that Girtin appears to have worked over with a monochrome wash (TG0217). That drawing was almost certainly begun in 1795 during Moore’s trip to the southern counties, and there is no evidence that Girtin visited the location himself, meaning his contribution is likely to have occurred later, in London. Certainly, he did not travel to the south coast in 1796, the date inscribed on this work, when he journeyed instead to the north east of England and to the Scottish Borders. There are a number of coloured and monochrome sketches that date from that trip, such as the large study of Warkworth Hermitage (TG1095), but there is also a series of small watercolours, sketch-like in appearance, such as Bothal Castle, from the River Wansbeck (TG1089), which, as in this case, must have been produced back in the studio. One of these, a view of Seaton Sluice in Northumberland (TG1088), was even sold as a pair of this dated drawing of Pegwell Bay, measuring the same size (10.5 × 16.5 cm, 4 ¼ × 6 ½ in) and sharing significant stylistic links, as well a basic composition that effectively mirrors the south coast scene.

The implications of the link between the two coastal views are surprisingly far reaching given their small scale. Specifically, the fact that the dated view of Pegwell Bay could not have been painted on the spot means that the north-eastern view, even though it has all the appearance of being sketched at speed on the spot, was very likely made after the 1796 tour. From this it follows that Girtin was therefore beginning to produce a new type of small-scale commodity that, because it was painted with evident dispatch, purported to be a colour sketch. There is no evidence that either of these works was made for Moore, and the supposition must be that they were panted for another patron who favoured the informal qualities of a sketch over a finished studio watercolour. The sketches that Girtin actually coloured on his tours were never particularly numerous, and they were made for the artist’s own use, so the logical thing would have been for him to create a new supply of colour sketches in the studio based on his own pencil drawings, or, as here, on a monochrome derived from another artist. Hence the significance of the inscription of the location of the site on the back of this sketch-like work: its specificity hides the fact that the artist never actually visited Pegwell.

(?) 1795

Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate


(?) 1796

Warkworth Hermitage


1796 - 1797

Bothal Castle, from the River Wansbeck


1796 - 1797

Seaton Sluice


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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