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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Somerset House: The Strand Front and the Royal Academy

1790 - 1791

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'Front of the Royal Academy, Strand' for The Temple of Taste, no.4, 2 February 1795, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.15, 1820. Royal Academy of Arts, London (06/5155).

Photo courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts, London (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Somerset House: The Strand Front and the Royal Academy
1790 - 1791
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

This is the first of the views of London’s preeminent architectural monuments published in Charles Taylor’s (1756–1823) periodical The Temple of Taste for which no prototype by Girtin has been identified. The rooms in Sir William Chambers’ (1722–96) Somerset House assigned to the Royal Academy in 1780 for their use were sited along the Strand front and were amongst the earliest part of the monumental building to be completed. Taylor’s text, bound alongside the engraving, criticised elements of the design but concluded that the architect had dealt well with the confined site and that ‘the general aspect of the composition is among the grandest of our modern buildings’. If Girtin was the author of the drawing from which the print was made, albeit probably adapted from another source, then the subject would have had personal significance by the time of its publication on 2 February 1795. Girtin made his debut at the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition in May 1794 with ‘View of Ely Minster’ (TG0202) and continued to show his watercolours there until his death in 1802, though in other respects his connection with the Academy was slight. Unlike his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Girtin did not attend the Schools, nor was he successful in his attempt to attain the status of Associate of the Academy.

(?) 1794

Ely Cathedral, from the South East


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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