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Works Thomas Girtin

The Bridge at Warkworth, with the Castle Beyond

1796 - 1797

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Warkworth' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.3, no.65, pl.129, 1 May 1797, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.58, 1854. British Museum, London (1862,0712.892).

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

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
Title
  • The Bridge at Warkworth, with the Castle Beyond
Date
1796 - 1797
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Durham and Northumberland; River Scenery

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG1099
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print

About this Work

This view of the late fourteenth-century bridge over the river Coquet at Warkworth, with the castle in the distance, is known only from an engraving published in 1797 as Warkworth (see the print after, above. The untraced watercolour is one of four subjects studied on Girtin’s 1796 tour to the northern counties that were engraved by John Walker (active 1776–1802) for his publication The Copper-Plate Magazine, the others being views of Bamburgh Castle (TG1459), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (TG1081) and Richmond Castle (TG1067) (Walker, 1792–1802). The engraving of Warkworth is dated 1 May 1797 and it is inscribed as being ‘from an Original Drawing by Girtin’, meaning that he must have produced the lost watercolour soon after returning from the trip in 1796, and it may be that a commission from Walker to produce images for his monthly publication helped to finance the journey. If that was the case, we can expect that the drawing was the same size as the print, which would have minimised the engraver’s work, and that the subject was dictated by the publisher. The text accompanying the print thus explains how the castle could not have been ‘more magnificent or picturesque’, though it does omit to mention the interest that the bridge had for antiquarians; the unassuming tower to the right makes it one of only a handful of fortified bridges in the country.

Warkworth: Looking towards the Castle across the River Coquet, with the Bridge at the Right

This structure is also visible in the drawing made by Girtin’s contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) on his tour to the north east in the following year, 1797 (see figure 1). As on a number of occasions when sketching in York (see TG1655 figure 1), Durham (see TG1073 figure 1) and Lindisfarne (see TG1105 figure 1 and TG1107 figure 1), Turner seems to have had Girtin’s earlier drawings in mind when he adopted the same viewpoints to work from, and, as David Hill has proposed, it is likely that he studied his colleague’s sketches before setting out on his later tour (Hill, 1996, pp.4–5).

1797

Bamburgh Castle, from the Village

TG1459

1796 - 1797

Newcastle-upon-Tyne

TG1081

1796 - 1797

Richmond Castle and Town, from the South East

TG1067

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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