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Works Thomas Girtin

The Market Square at Aylesbury

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG0369a: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Market Square at Aylesbury, 1798–99, graphite on paper, 15.4 × 24.2 cm, 6 ⅛ × 9 ½ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXVII, 41 (D36612).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Market Square at Aylesbury
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
15.4 × 24.2 cm, 6 ⅛ × 9 ½ in

‘Aylesbury’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing; Replica by Girtin
Subject Terms
Buckinghamshire View; Picturesque Vernacular; The Country Town

The Market Square at Aylesbury (TG1398)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
397ii as '"At Aylesbury"'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1241 as '"At Aylesbury"' by Thomas Girtin; Tate Online as 'Buildings at Aylesbury' (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

This freely worked pencil sketch, which shows a picturesque group of buildings in the Buckinghamshire market town of Aylesbury, appears at first sight to be a sketch made on the spot. Aylesbury would have been a fairly straightforward excursion from London, but it could also have been taken in on Girtin’s major tours to the West Country in 1797 or Wales in 1798, and stylistically either date would be a reasonable fit. However, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak knew of another pencil drawing of exactly the same subject with identical dimensions, which they thought was the primary version of the sketch (TG1398), and they speculated that this drawing, which comes from the collection of Girtin’s early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), was made as a ‘repetition’ for him around 1800 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.189). The other drawing has since disappeared, and it does not seem to have been photographed, so it is impossible to either confirm or deny their claim. However, although their date for both drawings looks to be too late, given that there is no evidence that Girtin had any connection with Monro much after 1798, I am inclined to believe that there is something to their view that the work is a ‘repetition’. At least four of the pencil drawings in the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1601, TG1604, TG1611 and TG1620) are copies made after earlier on-the-spot studies, and so close are they to the format and style of Girtin’s work in the field that it would not be possible to distinguish them as copies if not for the existence of dates and watermarks. This is clearly not the case here, but the fact that the drawing came from the collection of Monro does at least suggest a motive for the production of a replica: namely, that Girtin sold the sketch, or a copy of it, on the basis of its subject or as an example of his draughtsmanship, and that the replica was made so that the artist could retain a version of it for future reference, or indeed for sale. However, the examples of the replicas in the book in The Whitworth, Manchester, suggest that even if the other version of this drawing reappears, it may still be impossible to say whether it was the original, such was the artist’s skill in making replicas that seemingly display signs of being sketched on the spot.

1797 - 1798

The Market Square at Aylesbury


(?) 1801

Chelsea Reach, Looking towards Battersea


(?) 1800

Grimbald Bridge, near Knaresborough


(?) 1800

A Crag on the River Nidd


(?) 1801

Middleham Village, with the Castle Beyond


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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