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Works (?) Thomas Girtin


1800 - 1805

Primary Image: TG1326: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Snowdon, 1800–05, watercolour and scratching out on wove paper, 23.7 × 48.1 cm, 9 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 19 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, anonymous gift (59.782).

Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Anonymous gift (59.782) (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Snowdon
1800 - 1805
Medium and Support
Watercolour and scratching out on wove paper
23.7 × 48.1 cm, 9 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 19 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Hills and Mountains; North Wales

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Museum Website


Sir John Charles Robinson (1824–1913); bought from him by Thos. Agnew & Sons, 3 July 1901 (stock no.3675); sold to A. Hugh Thomson, 1 March 1902 for £30; ... Ellen Twistleton Bullard (1865–1959); bequeathed to the Museum, 1959

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1902, no.35 as ’Snowdon from the Vale of Llanberis’; Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1960; Minneapolis, 1961, no.32


Museum Website as 'Attributed to Thomas Girtin'

About this Work

This badly faded watercolour, which is said to show Snowdon in North Wales, has been attributed to Girtin, though it was not included in Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak’s catalogue of the artist’s watercolours (Girtin and Loshak, 1954). This may have been because they were not aware of a work that was then in a private collection in America, but the chances are that it was seen by Thomas Girtin earlier in the century and that it was excluded from the catalogue, and no doubt rightly so, on the grounds of its poor quality. I know the work only from an online image, but there is nothing to lead me to think that it has anything to do with Girtin or his 1798 trip to North Wales. The watercolour is said to be mounted on ‘a sheet made of two flower proofs by Havell, pasted together’, and, though I am not sure what that means, a young William Havell (1782–1857) might indeed be a candidate for the authorship, not least because he was clearly heavily influenced by Girtin early in his career (Smith, 2002b, p.247).

Snowdon from Capel Curig

Another, larger view of Snowdon, looking from Capel Curig, has also been attributed to Girtin in the past (see figure 1). The work is again faded, and this and its poor quality likewise make an attribution to Girtin untenable. One possibility is that this is an early work by John Varley (1778–1842), whose variation on Girtin’s Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), Looking towards Cadair Idris (see TG1334 figure 2) shares a number of features with this watercolour.

The attribution of the current work and the view from Capel Curig to Girtin in the past has had as much to do with the fact that one of his most important views of North Wales has not yet been traced as it has had with any resemblance that they might have with the artist’s mountain views. A Mountain View, near Beddgelert (TG1322) is undoubtedly one of the two works that Girtin showed at the Royal Academy in 1799 with the title ‘Beth Kellert, North Wales’, but no sign has ever been found of the other watercolour exhibited with the same title (Exhibitions: Royal Academy, London, 1799, nos.347 and 381). Given that the original title of TG1322, ‘Bethkellert’, is no more than an approximate one, it is perhaps not surprising that the temptation to attribute similar mountain scenes to Girtin has proved too strong to resist.

1798 - 1799

A Mountain View, near Beddgelert


1798 - 1799

A Mountain View, near Beddgelert


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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