For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0291: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card), 7.7 × 12.1 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIX 15 (D36642).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card)
7.7 × 12.1 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Domestic Buildings; Oxfordshire View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 81 or 82 as 'Views and ruins, in colours, on cards 10'; bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £8 18s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.817j


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1243 as 'Stanton Harcourt, near Oxford' by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

This informal sketch-like view of the medieval kitchen of Stanton Harcourt Manor in Oxfordshire is part of a group of twenty or so small-scale watercolours by Girtin that were acquired by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) and consequently now form part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. With the exception of the outline used for this watercolour (TG0360), all of the preparatory drawings are in the same collection. Most of the outlines were copied from the sketches of Girtin’s first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), though in this case the ultimate source for the watercolour seems to have been a lost drawing by Edward Dayes (1763–1804) (see TG0360 figure 1), and Girtin certainly did not visit the site himself. The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were produced for Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) around 1795–96, and some sixty ‘Coloured Drawings on Cards’ were sold from his collection in all (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 7 May 1808, lots 60 and 61; Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 80–83). This example is unusual only in the fact that it differs slightly from the outline, omitting the framing tree to the right and adding working figures in the centre, who provide a rationale for the pile of wood leaning against the walls in the centre.

The great kitchen at Stanton Harcourt was built in the early fifteenth century to serve the manor house, which had been demolished by Girtin’s day. The building was the subject of numerous images in the eighteenth century, not least because of its association with Alexander Pope (1688–1744), who completed his translation of Homer’s Iliad whilst lodging in the old manor. Girtin’s view neither hints at this nor does it give any indication that within the squat tower is one of the most impressive medieval interiors in the country. Indeed, the building depicted in the watercolour is noticeably less elegant and grand than the one featured in the drawing on which it was based. It is possible that Monro may have had a publication in mind when he commissioned Girtin to produce small-scale watercolours such as this, but their rapid, even careless execution and sketch-like appearance, suggesting that the work was made on the spot, indicate a different kind of commodity. The subjects chosen for this informal sketch-like treatment also do not follow any obvious pattern, with no clear links that suggest that Monro had a specific overarching theme in mind. It may be that there is nothing that unites the group other than the fact that Girtin’s outlines provided a ready resource from which sketch-like watercolours might be rapidly produced.

The paper is discoloured as a result of excessive exposure to light whilst on long-term exhibition. The differently toned areas (top, left and right) were protected by an earlier mount.

1794 - 1795

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.