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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Thomas Malton the Younger

The Banqueting House, Whitehall

1790 - 1791

Primary Image: TG0039: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804), The Banqueting House, Whitehall, 1790–91, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 12.7 cm, 5 in diameter. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (DYCE.721).

Photo courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum, London (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'The Banqueting-House, Whitehall' for The Temple of Taste, no.7, 1 May 1795, 12.7 cm, 5 in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.14, 1820. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Thomas Malton the Younger (1748-1804)
  • The Banqueting House, Whitehall
1790 - 1791
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
12.7 cm, 5 in diam.

‘T. Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Bankwiting House White Hall’ lower centre

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
3 as '1789–90'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2016


Revd Alexander Dyce (1798–1869); bequeathed to the Museum, 1869

About this Work

The Banqueting House, Whitehall

This signed drawing by Girtin was engraved and subsequently published by Charles Taylor (1756–1823) in his periodical The Temple of Taste on 1 May 1795, though stylistically it can be dated to a few years earlier. Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak argued that the watercolour is based on a drawing by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748–1804) that was published in 1781 and that shows the building at an oblique angle (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.50). A more likely Malton source, however, may be a later watercolour (see figure 1), which shows Inigo Jones’ (1573–1652) pioneering classical facade parallel to the viewer. However, aside from the question of how the young artist might have got access to a watercolour rather than a published print, there are several differences between their respective views that suggest that Girtin did not copy Malton’s view. For instance, Girtin does not include the roof that features in Malton’s view. He also shows a different set of windows on the ground floor as bricked up (the building was then in use as a chapel), and, in turn, he also includes more of the buildings to the right and left of the facade. This last difference raises another issue, as a close comparison of Girtin’s watercolour and Taylor’s print shows that the engraver actually changed the form of the adjacent buildings and adjusted the fenestration so that it matches Malton’s image. All of this suggests that the young and inexperienced apprentice artist may have worked from his own sketch and that the engraver corrected faults in his drawing and took the opportunity to tidy up the neighbouring buildings. Thus, the undistinguished structure to the right of the Banqueting House and rising to half its height is rendered in the print as a more modestly sized and symmetrical structure in the engraving.

Such changes no doubt stemmed from Taylor’s contention in the text that accompanied the print that Jones was responsible for ‘the most correct and elegant building in England’ and that these qualities derived from ‘the symmetry of its parts’ and ‘the elegance of the whole’. Built between 1619 and 1622 for James I, the Banqueting House was conceived as a ‘small part … of a vast Palace’ fit for a modern monarchy and built in a classical style that might also help to ensure the triumph of the ‘British School of Art’. The plans for Whitehall Palace were one of the victims of troubled political times, though the Banqueting House retained its status as a pioneering example of a new, classically inspired architecture. Taylor concluded his commentary with a cautionary note. James I could not have known it, but he was creating a building ‘from which his son was to step from the throne to the scaffold’ and, indeed, the front-on view of the Banqueting House adopted by Girtin was invariably used in depictions of that event.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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