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Works Thomas Girtin after Charles-Louis Clérisseau

Rome: Study of the Entablature of the Temple of Saturn

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG0895: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820), Rome: Study of the Entablature of the Temple of Saturn, 1797–98, graphite, pen and ink and brush and ink on paper, 13 × 17.5 cm, 5 ⅛ × 6 ⅞ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: Domenico Cunego (1727–1803), after Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820), etching and engraving, 'Inside of the Temple of Concord' for Views of Antique Buildings and Famous Ruins in Italy, 1760–67, 46.9 × 60 cm, 18 ½ × 23 ⅝ in. British Museum, London (1917,1208.1147).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820)
  • Rome: Study of the Entablature of the Temple of Saturn
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite, pen and ink and brush and ink on paper
13 × 17.5 cm, 5 ⅛ × 6 ⅞ in

‘Girtin’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work from a Known Source: Foreign Master
Subject Terms
Italian View: Rome

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


William Henry Millais (1828–99); Ernest Heinzer; Sotheby’s, 13 July 1995, lot 25 as 'Part of the Temple of Concord, Rome', £2,990; Spink & Son Ltd, London; their sale, Christie's, South Kensington, 21 June 1998, lot 109 as 'A Study of the Architectural Columns of the Temple of Concorde, Rome', £1,380

Exhibition History

Spink’s, London, 1996, no.15

About this Work

This sketch of part of the entablature of the Temple of Saturn in the Forum in Rome was copied by Girtin from an etching by Domenico Cunego (1727–1803) that, in turn, reproduced a composition by Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721–1820) (see the source image above). Girtin also copied the same print in full in a highly detailed drawing that was commissioned by his early patron John Henderson (1764–1843) (TG0893), and in both works he used a mix of brushwork with pen and ink to reinforce a pencil outline. This small sketch was presumably also made at the home of Henderson, whose large collection of prints provided Girtin with the sources for many architectural subjects in the late 1790s. It may have been executed as part of the production process either for that drawing (TG0893) or for a watercolour dating from slightly later, which concentrates more on the temple’s ruins than its modern surroundings (TG0894). Equally, it is possible that the sketch was made with no particular end in sight, simply as an exercise in architectural draughtsmanship. Girtin was recorded by the dramatist Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809) as taking great ‘pleasure’ in the ‘delicately chisseled’ carving of architectural details at the chapel at Vincennes near Paris. The ionic capitals shown here are a far cry from the carvings that attracted his attention in France in 1802, but, as Holcroft noted, the artist’s ‘pleasure’ stemmed from the fact that he ‘had studied the Gothic’ style, with the emphasis on study as an informed and systematic process (Holcroft, 1804, vol.2, p.489).1 Indeed, it is hard to see how sketching such a detail might have helped with the production of the sort of more generalised watercolours that Girtin was producing around 1798–1800, and perhaps it was a case of a study turning out to have commercial value. For it is also difficult to understand why Girtin would have chosen to sign a sketch that was destined to remain in the studio as a reference point, unless it had found a buyer who wished to acquire an example of his skill as an architectural draughtsman.

1796 - 1797

Rome: The Temple of Saturn, Called the Temple of Concord


1796 - 1797

Rome: The Temple of Saturn, Called the Temple of Concord


1799 - 1800

Rome: The Temple of Saturn, with the Arch of Septimius Severus


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 Holcroft’s unique eye-witness account of Girtin at work during the excursions they undertook in and around Paris in the early spring of 1802, published in the second volume of Travels from Hamburg, through Westphalia, Holland, and the Netherlands, to Paris, is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1802 – Item 1).

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