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Works Thomas Girtin after Bartholomew Howlett

Tattershall Castle, from the South West

(?) 1798

Primary Image: TG1031: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827), Tattershall Castle, from the South West, (?) 1798, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 35.3 × 48.5 cm, 13 ⅞ × 19 ⅛ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), 'from a Sketch by B. Howlett', etching and engraving, 'Tatershall Castle' for A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln, 1 May 1799, 16.8 × 34 cm, 6 ⅜ × 13 ⅜ in. British Museum, London (1878,1214.527).

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

Print after: John Hassell (1767–1825), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) 'From an original drawing in the possession of Wm Brand Esqr. of Boston', etching and aquatint, hand coloured, 'Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire' for Aqua Pictura, 1 July 1818, 19 × 27.5 cm, 7 ½ × 10 ⅞ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Bartholomew Howlett (1767-1827)
  • Tattershall Castle, from the South West
(?) 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
35.3 × 48.5 cm, 13 ⅞ × 19 ⅛ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; 'This drawing was presented / to Wm Brand Esq Collector of / the Customs by Sir Joseph Banks' on an old label attached to the backboard

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Lincolnshire

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
280 as 'Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire'; '1798–9'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820); presented to William Brand, 1812; John Cust, 2nd Baron Brownlow (1779–1853); then by descent to Adelaide Florence Caroline Hooman (née Cust) (Davies, 1924); then by descent to Stella de Wergifosse; her posthumous sale, Christie's, 5 July 2016, lot 97, £62,500

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1953a, no.6


Davies, 1924, pl.27

About this Work

This view of the imposing fifteenth-century brick castle of Tattershall in Lincolnshire was engraved in 1799 by Bartholomew Howlett (1767–1827) for his publication A Selection of Views in the County of Lincoln (see the print after, above) (Howlett, 1805). Girtin visited the county in 1794 in the company of his earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), and two of the views of Lincoln that he made for his patron after his own on-the-spot sketches were included by Howlett in Views in the County of Lincoln (TG1008 and TG1010). Many of the remaining eight views that were engraved after Girtin’s Lincolnshire scenes were made from drawings taken by other artists, including Howlett himself, who, according to the credit line of the print, provided the professional with the ‘Sketch’ on which this work is based. The text to the print notes that Howlett took the view in 1798, making this one of the latest of Girtin’s Lincolnshire subjects, and this is borne out by its greater stylistic maturity, particularly in the way the building is integrated into its setting, with the moat and farm buildings all prominent. That said, the view still betrays signs of not having been studied on the spot by Girtin. An artist who had visited the site would probably not have depicted the impressive fifteenth-century church of the Holy Trinity quite so far away when, as the drawing of the two buildings contributed by the antiquarian and amateur artist William Brand (active 1795–1805) to The Copper-Plate Magazine (Walker, 1792–1802) shows, they were more closely linked. Indeed, when Howlett came to engrave Girtin’s watercolour, he tellingly chose to alter the rather diffuse composition that the artist had inherited, cutting an area to the left and trimming both the foreground and the sky to bring the castle closer to create a more imposing image, with the result that the print is more like the impressive view of Tattershall from the north east that the artist produced in the following year (TG1030).

Aqua Pictura

Given that he was the provider of the image from which Girtin worked as well as the engraver of the watercolour, we might also expect Howlett to have commissioned the work. However, the watercolour is significantly larger than the print, and, if it had been produced for Howlett for engraving, it would surely have been the same size, as is the case with the watercolour of Langton Hall (TG1028). Instead, I suspect that the work was commissioned by its first known owner, the great scientist and local Lincolnshire landowner Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820). Banks must have known of Girtin’s work as he provided the very young artist with images from his trip to Iceland to copy (such as TG0004), and, although he may have simply purchased this watercolour from Howlett, topographical publications of this sort depended on the support of like-minded local supporters of the arts, who typically ordered images of subjects close to their hearts and lent them for engraving. Banks certainly subscribed to Howlett’s publication, meaning that in return for a three-shilling fee he received, between 1797 and 1805, twenty-five parts, each containing three engravings, together with a text that allowed the prints to be bound together in book form. This was presumably sufficient for Banks’ purposes since he presented Girtin’s watercolour of Tattershall to Brand, a fellow subscriber, probably with what appears to be the work’s pair, Boston Church, from the South West (TG1027). And it was Brand, in turn, who lent the work to John Hassell (1767–1825), who reproduced the image in 1813 as a hand-coloured etching and aquatint in his drawing manual Aqua Pictura (see the print after, above) (Hassell, 1811–13). Hassell added a brief appreciation of Girtin's career and colour notes to help the amateur to work up their own watercolour version of Tattershall Castle (see figure 1).


Lincoln Cathedral, from the West


1794 - 1795

Lincoln, from the Brayford Pool


(?) 1799

Tattershall Castle, from the North East



Langton Hall



The Great Geysir, Iceland, as It Appeared during Its Eruption to Sir Joseph Banks in September 1772


(?) 1798

Boston Church, from the South West


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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