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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

The High Rocks, near Tunbridge Wells

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0200: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The High Rocks, near Tunbridge Wells, 1795–96, graphite on wove paper, 27.5 × 21.1 cm, 10 ⅞ × 8 ¼ in. National Galleries of Scotland (D 4691).

Photo courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The High Rocks, near Tunbridge Wells
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
27.5 × 21.1 cm, 10 ⅞ × 8 ¼ in

'Tunbridge Rocks. Kent / T. Girtin delt’ on the back, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
79 as 'Tunbridge Rocks, Kent'; 'c. 1794'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and June 2018


Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 16 May 1881, lot 392 (9 pencils in lot); bought by 'Palser', £1 1s; J. Palser & Sons; Edward Cohen (1816–87); then by bequest to his niece, Isabella Oswald (1838–1905); her posthumous sale, Robins & Hine, 30 March 1905, lot unknown; Sir Edward Marsh (1872–1953); bequeathed through the National Art-Collections Fund, 1953


Whittingham, 2007, p.135; Baker, 2011, p.129

About this Work

The sandstone outcrops of rocks a couple of kilometres west of the centre of Tunbridge Wells, on the edge of Broadwater Forest, attracted the attention of many artists, amateur and professional. It is unlikely that Girtin was ever in the area himself, however, and the probability is that he copied this pencil drawing from the sketch of another artist. One candidate is his first patron, the amateur James Moore (1762–99), who provided him with numerous models. However, they were never on this scale, and certainly not landscape subjects without any antiquarian interest, and the same might well be said about the other amateur artist whom Girtin copied on numerous occasions during this period, John Henderson (1764–1843). Stylistically, the work is consistent with the pencil drawings that Girtin made at the house of his early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) around 1795–96, such as a view of Ariccia after John Robert Cozens (1752–97) (TG0622) and A Village in a Wood (TG0236), which seems to be related to a pencil drawing by Thomas Hearne (1744–1817). It is likely, therefore, that The High Rocks was copied from a sketch by a professional artist in Monro’s collection.

A clue to the identity of the source for this drawing of the rocks near Tunbridge Wells lies in a comparable drawing of a nearby subject, Tonbridge Bridge and Castle (TG0192), which has the same measurements, albeit in a landscape format, and is likewise inscribed on the back with the subject and signed ‘T. Girtin delt’. This form of the artist’s signature is used in only one other instance throughout his career, and its presence on two drawings of geographically related subjects suggests that they came from the same source and that they were produced as a pair. The use of the formal ‘delt’, short for the Latin ‘delinit’, also indicates that neither drawing was made for Girtin’s own use, and, instead, it appears that the sketches were produced for sale to a collector who wanted examples of Girtin’s skills as a draughtsman. Tonbridge Bridge and Castle is said to have been copied from a sketch by Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and, though this has not been traced, it may be that Girtin’s master provided the source for both ‘presentation’ drawings (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.144).

1795 - 1800

Ariccia: The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and the Chigi Palace


1794 - 1795

A Village in a Wood


1795 - 1796

Tonbridge Bridge and Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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