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Works Thomas Girtin

Studies of Goats

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1518: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Studies of Goats, 1797–98, graphite on paper, 15.5 × 19.5 cm, 6 ⅛ × 7 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Studies of Goats
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
15.5 × 19.5 cm, 6 ⅛ × 7 ½ in

‘Girtin’ centre left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Animal Study

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


William Henry Millais (1828–99); then by descent; Sotheby’s, 13 July 1995, lot 27, £1,150

About this Work

Sheet from a Drawing Book with Six Studies of Heads of Animals

This series of studies of a goat and a kid is one of two signed sketches of animals on paper of the same size that would otherwise have been difficult to associate with the artist (the other being TG1519). Girtin presumably made the sketches from life, with the idea of perhaps incorporating them into one of the picturesque farm scenes that he produced throughout his career, though no example of this has yet been found. It does not follow that, just because the artist did not use any of his animal studies in a finished watercolour, they were not taken from nature; however, there is nonetheless something about the all-too-neat placement of the animals on the page that made me want to check to see whether, as with so many of Girtin’s sketches, these too were copied from another source. So far an extensive search amongst the mass of animal imagery that was produced at this date has not thrown up any positive results, but the similarity in the way the animals are presented with numerous prints made after the sketches of George Morland (1763–1804) only increased my suspicion that, despite its evident naturalness, Girtin’s drawing is not a simple unmediated set of views sketched from life (see figure 1). Morland’s pencil sketches were assembled together in groups and published in the mid-1790s by John Harris (c.1740–1811) as a series of ‘Sketch Books’ that were aimed at the amateur market, providing beginners in the art with models to copy, and it is possible that Girtin had something like this in mind as well. A later drawing by Girtin, An Inn Yard, Edgware Road (TG1747), has the same feeling of being a demonstration piece rather than a sketch made for the artist’s own use, and, though neither study found a publisher, they both appear to work best as carefully ordered models for others to follow.

1797 - 1798

A Study of a Lion from the Tower of London



An Inn Yard, Edgware Road, Paddington


by Greg Smith

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