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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0360: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt, 1794–95, graphite on laid paper, 16.3 × 21.6 cm, 6 ⅜ × 8 ½ in. Private Collection, Norfolk (I-A-43).

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hollow (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
16.3 × 21.6 cm, 6 ⅜ × 8 ½ in
Object Type
Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Domestic Buildings; Oxfordshire View

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt (TG0291)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in April 2022


Charles Stokes (1785–1853) ... William Ward (1829–1908); bought by Sir Hickman Bacon (1855–1945), 4 June 1900, £2 10s; then by descent


Described in the Tax-Exempt Heritage Assets list as 'A fortified manor house (Stanton Harcourt?)' by Joseph Mallord William Turner

About this Work

John Greig (c.1779–1861 or later), 'from a Sketch by the late E. Dayes' (Edward Dayes (1763–1804)), etching and engraving, 'Antient Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire' for <i>The Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet</i>, vol.7, 1810, 6.1 × 10 cm, 2 ⅜ × 3 ⅞ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This drawing, which has hitherto been attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), was used as the basis for a small watercolour of the exterior view of the famous medieval kitchen at Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire in the Turner Bequest (TG0291). The image is close to an etching by Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809) as well as an aquatint after a drawing by Joseph Farington (1747–1821), published in 1793, both of which cut the composition to the left to omit the church. However, as Timothy Wilcox has noted in correspondence with me, Girtin’s pencil sketch appears to have been made after a lost composition by Edward Dayes (1763–1804) that was engraved by John Greig (c.1779–1861 or later) for The Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet in 1810 (see the source image above) (Storer and Greig, 1807–11). The Turner Bequest contains about forty or so similar outline drawings by Girtin, all acquired at the posthumous sale of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), and twenty of these were used as the basis for similar small sketch-like watercolours on card. The majority of the outline drawings were made after the on-the-spot sketches of Girtin’s first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and there is no question of Girtin ever having visited the site himself. In this case no Stanton Harcourt subject by Moore is known and the links with Dayes’ composition are very clear, though it is just possible that he too based his lost drawing on a sketch by Moore – certainly, he frequently used the patron’s compositions. However, the likeliest scenario is that Girtin copied the subject from one of the numerous sketches by Dayes that were in the Monro collection, as it is unlikely that Girtin had direct access to his former master’s drawings at this date (around 1795). This is the first time that an outline drawing made by Girtin as the basis for a Monro watercolour has been identified outside the Turner Bequest. There must surely be more since a number of the watercolours on card, such as Raby Castle (TG0362), lack a matching outline.

The new attribution of this outline drawing to Girtin has been confirmed by Timothy Wilcox, whose forthcoming catalogue of the watercolour collection of Sir Hickman Bacon (1855–1945) will include details of his reasoning. Wilcox uses a careful stylistic analysis of the artist’s pencil work – ‘triple squiggles in some places, puffy arcs in others’ – to confirm the attribution, concluding correctly that such details were also so much a part of Turner’s practice at this date that even Girtin’s collaborator ‘could not distinguish his own work from that of his much lamented friend’. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the attribution of the pencil outlines in the Turner Bequest was a matter of considerable confusion until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s cogently argued article on the Monro School in 1984 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.9–10). Initially, Alexander Finberg, the first cataloguer of the bequest, ascribed the outlines to Girtin but thought that they were made on the spot (Finberg, 1913). Charles F. Bell, in turn, recognised that the drawings were copies, but suggested that they were made by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) in relation to his work on Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (1792) (Bell, 1915–17, pp.60–66). Then in 1938 Bell changed his mind and switched the attribution to Dayes, citing a letter from Turner in which he stated his opinion that the drawings he had bought from Monro’s sale had been produced by Girtin’s master (Bell, 1938–39, pp.97–103). Finally, Wilton’s article seems to have settled the argument, and I for one have no doubts about the attribution to Girtin of the set of drawings as well as this view of Stanton Harcourt.

1795 - 1796

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt


1795 - 1796

Raby Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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