For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

Shaldon, Seen from Teignmouth

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1263: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Shaldon, Seen from Teignmouth, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, cut and mounted onto another sheet of paper, 31.1 × 44.2 cm, 12 ¼ × 17 ⅜ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1986.29.527).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Shaldon, Seen from Teignmouth
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper, cut and mounted onto another sheet of paper
31.1 × 44.2 cm, 12 ¼ × 17 ⅜ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
241 as 'Headland on the Coast of South Devon (Possibly Shaldon)'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960); given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1986 (Tom Girtin said that this came from the studio)

Exhibition History

New Haven, 1986a, not in the catalogue


YCBA Online as 'Headland on the Coast of South Devon, Possibly Shaldon' (Accessed 15/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of the waterfront settlement of Shaldon in Devon was taken from the adjacent village of Teignmouth looking across the river Teign. Girtin visited Teignmouth in the autumn of 1797 when, as part of his West Country tour, he followed the south Devon coast from Exmouth. The artist made a rapid sketch of the beach at Teignmouth (TG1457), and he would only have had to move a few yards away to execute the drawing that presumably formed the basis for this watercolour. Girtin’s watercolour of Teignmouth has not been traced, but, if it does in fact follow the sketch, it would make an interesting contrast with the Shaldon view. The old port of Teignmouth was at the time of Girtin’s visit undergoing a transformation, with the building of an esplanade and seafront accommodation confirming its status as an increasingly fashionable resort, all of which is clearly apparent in the pencil sketch. Shaldon, which was only reachable by a ferry, was untouched by these developments. Therefore, whilst the Teignmouth view includes a line of bathing machines, here the beach is the site of boat-building, and the various carts and their attendant figures are engaged in trades associated with a traditional maritime economy.

The figures on the beach may only be very sketchily worked in, but the care that the artist took to differentiate their activities from what is seen in the equivalent Teignmouth scene suggests that the watercolour was produced in the studio from a pencil sketch, rather than being coloured on the spot. In what is a very marginal call, the fact that the work has lost much of its impact due to fading is another reason for thinking that the economy of the washes employed by the artist is more apparent than real; the water, for instance, has lost all but a few areas of blue reflections, and the sky has disappeared completely. In fact, as a note in the Girtin family archive records, this is quite literally the case, since such was the damaged state of the sky that Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) undertook some amateur conservation work on the watercolour when it was in his possession. He cut around the line of the hill and then mounted the remaining part of the landscape, minus the original sky, on another piece of paper. Tom Girtin (1913–94) called it an ‘ingenious collage’ and thought that the 'result is almost undetectable’, though that is little consolation, knowing that evidence that might have confirmed its status as a studio work has been lost (Girtin Archive, 40A). Bright open skies are an attractive feature of the coastal views that stemmed from Girtin’s 1797 tour (such as in TG1267), and I suspect that the lost example here would have set a similar jaunty tone for the watercolour as a whole, before fading robbed it of its best qualities.

(?) 1797

The Beach at Teignmouth


1798 - 1799

Kingswear, from Dartmouth


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.