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Works Thomas Girtin

St George’s Row, Tyburn

(?) 1801

Primary Image: TG1745: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), St George's Row, Tyburn, (?) 1801, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on laid paper, 12.2 × 19.8 cm, 4 ¾ × 7 ¾ in. British Museum, London (1890,0512.90).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • St George’s Row, Tyburn
(?) 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on laid paper
12.2 × 19.8 cm, 4 ¾ × 7 ¾ in
Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; London and Environs

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
399 as '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Henry Peter Standly (1782–1844); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 16 April 1845, lot 397 as a 'drawing in bistre, of St. George’s Row, Tyburn'; bought by 'Palser', 8s; J. Palser & Sons; William Hookham Carpenter (1792–1866); his posthumous sale, Sotheby's, 25 February 1867, lot 183; bought by 'James', £2; 'Hogarth'; bought from him by Dr John Percy (1817–89), 1878; his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 17 April 1890, lot 509; bought by the Museum, £1 16s


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.57; Davies, 1924, pl.69; Ritchie, 1935, pl.51; Grigson, 1955, p.82, p.178

About this Work

This uncharacteristic sketch depicts Girtin’s residence at St George’s Row, Tyburn, close to modern-day Hyde Park Corner. Girtin moved there soon after his marriage to Mary Ann Borrett (1781–1843) in October 1800, staying until his departure for France in November of the next year. According to the Land Tax Assessment, Girtin paid an annual rent of £4 13s 9d for either number 2 or number 9, and, as the same document shows, he had as his near neighbour the veteran watercolour artist.1 Sandby likewise recorded the otherwise nondescript terrace. It can be seen in the background of one of his views of the military encampment that gathered in Hyde Park in 1780 at the time of the Gordon Riots (see figure 1), and he also sketched the view from his window looking out onto the open scenery (see figure 2). The latter work, in particular, gives a good idea of the way that Girtin had moved up in the world, with such a fine view replacing the crowded setting he had hitherto occupied in St Martin’s-le-Grand (see TG1396), though admittedly a wagon rolls by in his sketch as a reminder that the route past Tyburn was one of the main thoroughfares in and out of London. Nonetheless, this was a small price to pay for a location that brought Girtin closer to his wealthy patrons and pupils, and the spacious premises also provided a large ‘painting-room’, which early biographers suggested became the ‘resort of many persons of distinction in society’ who came to gossip and witness the artist at work (Roget, 1891, p.109).

It is difficult not to read Girtin’s image as an expression of pride in his success, both professional and personal. Thus, much as he was to do in the colour sketch of section three of his London panorama (TG1854), the relatively recently erected terrace, built to the utilitarian standards set by building regulations, is transformed by a fine-art aesthetic, with pen and ink and washes of bistre used in a way more reminiscent of a Dutch seventeenth-century master than a modern topographical watercolourist. The proud renter–occupier and newly wed artist was able to enjoy the comparative luxury of his move to the West End for less than a year, however. Indeed, the property may have been too much of a drain on his resources, since it was let go when he travelled to Paris at the end of the year, and on his return he moved back to live with his wife at her parents’ home in Islington.


1795 - 1796

St Paul’s Cathedral, from St Martin’s-le-Grand


(?) 1801

Westminster and Lambeth: Colour Study for the ‘Eidometropolis’, Section Three


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The National Archives (IR 23/1-121)

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