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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Bartholomew Howlett

Tattershall Castle, from the North East

(?) 1799

Primary Image: TG1030: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827), Tattershall Castle, from the North East, (?) 1799, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 32.6 × 27 cm, 12 ⅞ × 10 ⅝ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1892.109).

Photo courtesy of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Photo by Michael Pollard (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), etching and engraving, 'North East View of Tattershall Castle' for A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln, 1 March 1800, 33.8 × 27.5 cm, 13 ¼ × 10 ⅞ in. British Museum, London (1878,1214.528).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Bartholomew Howlett (1767-1827)
  • Tattershall Castle, from the North East
(?) 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
32.6 × 27 cm, 12 ⅞ × 10 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Exhibition Watercolour; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Lincolnshire

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
281 as 'Tattershall Castle'; '1798–9'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and February 2020


Charles Stokes (1785–1853); then by descent to his neice, Hannah Cooper (listed in 1853) (lent to Manchester, 1857); John Edward Taylor (1830–1905) (lent to London, 1871; London, 1877; London, 1891); presented to the Whitworth Institute, 1892

Exhibition History

(?) Royal Academy, London, 1799, no.419 as ’Tatershall Castle, Lincolnshire, for Howlet’s Views’; Manchester, 1857, no.80; London, 1871, no.98 as ’Landscape. A Tower’; London, 1877, no.302 as ’Tattershall Castle’; London, 1891, no.39; Manchester, 1894, no number; Grafton Galleries, London, 1911, no.179a; London, 1923a, no.29; Huddersfield, 1946, no.2; Arts Council, 1951, no.79; London, 1951, no.481; Amsterdam, 1965, no.59; London, 1967, no.47; Manchester, 1973, no.51; Brussels, 1973, no.48


Monkhouse, 1894, pl.10; Davies, 1924, pl.28; Mayne, 1949, p.48; Hughes and Mayne, 1950, pl.18; Nugent, 2003, p.132

About this Work

This view of the imposing fifteenth-century brick castle of Tattershall in Lincolnshire, seen from the north east, was engraved in 1800 by Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827) for his publication A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln (see the print after, above) (Howlett, 1805). Either this watercolour or the view of the castle from the south west (TG1031) was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 as ‘Tatershall Castle, Lincolnshire, for Howlet’s Views’ (Exhibitions: Royal Academy, London, 1799, no.419), where it would have acted as a fine advertisement for the publication. By this date, Girtin typically submitted works to the Academy’s annual exhibition that were the fruits of his most recent tours, but in this case there is no evidence that he undertook a second visit to Lincolnshire following the trip he made in 1794 with his earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99). Indeed, it is unlikely that he ever visited Tattershall, especially as the credit line on the print of the companion view of the castle notes that it was copied by Girtin from a ‘Sketch’ by Howlett himself (see print after TG1031). Given that the text accompanying the print of the north-east view states that the subjects for the Tattershall prints were sketched in 1798, it is highly likely that this work too was produced by Girtin from a secondary source but that, by the date of its publication, the artist’s professional standing meant that Howlett thought better of highlighting his own more modest contribution.

In comparison with the rather diffuse composition of the south-west view of Tattershall, which resembles the unfocused scenes that Girtin copied from the sketches of Moore (such as TG0146), this upright composition epitomises the artist’s mature practice, with no hint that he was working from a secondary source. The tightly knit composition captures the monumental quality of the castle, whilst its humble setting amongst farm buildings is not allowed to dissipate the subject’s drama. The watercolour has faded considerably over the years, but that does not greatly spoil the effect; indeed, it marks a crucial stage in the development of the artist’s palette, as he increasingly substituted the cool blues mixed from ultramarine or Prussian blue seen in the earlier, south-west Tattershall view with a more transient pigment, indigo. Such differences are typical of the watercolours by Girtin that were engraved by Howlett. Produced across a five-year period, from 1794 to 1799, they are in a mixture of styles and came from a variety of sources, with only a handful contributed directly by the artists themselves. The rest seem to have been lent for engraving by collectors who had commissioned the works for their own collections, hence the complete lack of unity across the watercolours in terms of size, treatment and sources. In this case, there is no evidence about the drawing’s early provenance, and there is no way of telling whether it was commissioned by Howlett. The fact that the print, unlike the engraving after the south-west view of Tattershall, follows the watercolour without making any adjustments may suggest that it was made for Howlett, though equally it may mean that the artist was now simply more adept at tailoring his composition to the needs of the publisher.

The Girtin Archive (40A) records a copy of this composition, possibly by John Henderson (1764–1843), and it is conceivible that this is the same work as a poor-quality version now owned by the National Trust (Tattershall Castle collection (NT579361)). The sales of a number of other views of Tattershall attributed to Girtin are recorded in the Exhibitions section of the Archive, but in the absence of photographic evidence it has not been possible to judge their authenticity.

(?) 1798

Tattershall Castle, from the South West


(?) 1798

Tattershall Castle, from the South West


1792 - 1793

The Tithe Barn at Abbotsbury, with St Catherine’s Chapel on the Hill


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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