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Works Thomas Girtin

Richmond Castle and Town, from the South East

1796 - 1797

Primary Image: TG1067: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Richmond Castle and Town, from the South East, 1796–97, graphite and watercolour on paper, 36.5 × 48 cm, 14 ⅜ × 18 ⅞ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bonhams (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Richmond' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.4, no.83, pl.165, 1 November 1798, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.127, 1854. British Museum, London (1862,0712.959).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Richmond Castle and Town, from the South East
1796 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
36.5 × 48 cm, 14 ⅜ × 18 ⅞ in
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; River Scenery; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
235 as 'Richmond Castle, Yorkshire'; '1797–8'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2000


Charles James Pooley (1836–1900) (lent to London, 1875); his sale, Christie’s, 6 March 1880, lot 95, bought in; Capes & Dunn, Manchester, 28 February 1882, lot 43; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, £84 (stock no.6451) for James Worthington, plus 5% commission; Thomas Ashton (1818–98); then by descent to Elinor Gertrude Lupton (1886–1979) (née Ashton); then by descent to a Gentleman; his sale, Sotheby’s, 16 July 1992, lot 101, unsold; Thos. Agnew & Sons; ... Bonhams, 7 March 2006, lot 59, unsold; Bonhams, 6 June 2006, lot 32, £14,400

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.21; Agnew’s, 1993, no.29; Harewood, 1999, no.35; Agnew’s, 2000, no.24

About this Work

This view of Richmond in Yorkshire, taken from the banks of the river Swale, was almost certainly based on a drawing produced by the artist on his first independent tour, to the northern counties and the Scottish Borders in 1796, though the original sketch has not been traced. Girtin made a series of studies of the hilltop castle from various positions along the river Swale, with the great Norman keep dominating the view in each case, and he was to return to the subject, producing watercolours at various times in his career (such as TG1688). In this instance, as David Hill has noted, Girtin adopted a slightly elevated viewpoint on the right bank of the river, from where the open fields descend to the water and one of the town’s many mills is prominent (Hill, 1999, p.54). In addition to being celebrated as one of the most picturesque towns in the north, Richmond was the home of a significant number of mills, and, in focusing on views from the river, as in Richmond Castle and Bridge, from the River Swale (TG1064), Girtin inevitably recorded scenes of industry as well as ancient military splendour (Hill, 1984b, pp.64–67).

Richmond Castle and Town is one of four subjects derived from Girtin’s 1796 tour that were engraved on a small scale for John Walker’s (active 1776–1802) Copper-Plate Magazine, in 1797 and 1798 (see the print after, above) (Walker, 1792–1802). Only one of the four ‘Original Drawing[s] by T. Girtin’ mentioned in the credit line was the same size as its engraving (TG1081), and I suspect that in this case, as with the even grander view of Bamburgh Castle (TG1459), the publisher borrowed the drawing from a supportive patron of the artist. Certainly, the engraver did not need all of the detail included in such relatively large drawings, and in both cases Walker simplified the design and cut the composition slightly. In the view of Richmond, this meant excluding the reflection of the keep in the river, but this was presumably done to simplify the process of engraving rather than, as Hill has suggested, to save Girtin from embarrassment – though, as he is quite right to point out, it ‘would be impossible to see a reflection’ of the tower from this viewpoint (Hill, 1999, p.54). It is important to establish the relationship between the print and the watercolour because, in addition to the implausibility of the reflection, there are other weaknesses in the drawing that might lead one to conclude that it was derived from the print and was thus executed by someone other than Girtin. There are some passages in the townscape and the fields in the middle ground, for instance, that appear formulaic, if not banal, and the pencil work, where it is visible, is quite crude and clumsy. The last point is crucial, however, being one of the unattractive results of fading in a watercolour, and there is no doubt that this work has been adversely affected by its changed condition. On balance, therefore, I am persuaded that the work’s failings stem in the main from its far from perfect condition.


Richmond Castle, from the River Swale


1796 - 1797

Richmond Castle and Bridge, from the River Swale


1796 - 1797




Bamburgh Castle, from the Village


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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