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Works Thomas Girtin

The Old Cottage, Widmore, near Bromley

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1749: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Old Cottage, Widmore, near Bromley, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 30.8 × 51.5 cm, 12 ⅛ × 20 ¼ in. British Museum, London (1958,0712.35).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Old Cottage, Widmore, near Bromley
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
30.8 × 51.5 cm, 12 ⅛ × 20 ¼ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin, slightly cropped

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Dover and Kent; Picturesque Vernacular; Rural Labour

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
276 as '1798–9'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


John Jackson (d.1828); his posthumous sale, Foster’s, 24 April 1828, lot 324 as 'View at Widmore, near Bromley, Kent'; bought by 'Roberts', £7 17s 6d; William Gratwick; the Revd Thomas Baugh; his widow, Mrs Baugh; A. Pearse; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, 27 March 1914, £100; bought by Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868–1958), 1914, £150 (stock no.8272); bequeathed to the Museum, 1958

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1919, no.2 as 'The Road through the Village'; Agnew’s, 1931, no.105; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.103; London, 1985, no.74


Cundall, 1922–23, pp.4–5 as 'Landscape'; Sloan, 1998, p.141; Smith, 2002b, p.113

About this Work

The Old Cottage, Widmore, near Bromley

This fine watercolour, in excellent condition, is one of a series of views that Girtin made of scenes in the area of Bromley in Kent, about twenty kilometres south of London (including TG1422). Though there are doubts about the subject of some of the views traditionally said to depict Bromley (for instance, TG1338 and TG1418), other watercolours showing the same rambling cottage or farmhouse by Richard Ramsay Reinagle (1775–1862) (see figure 1) and David Cox (1783–1859) (Guy Peppiatt Fine Art, 2008) confirm this to be a scene in the nearby village of Widmore, though why so many artists were attracted to the same, admittedly very picturesque, building is not clear. It has been suggested that Girtin visited the area in connection with his patrons Sir Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough (1760–1838), and his wife Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837), the latter of whom was said to be his favourite pupil. However, the couple did not buy their estate at Bromley Hill until 1801, and it may be that, like his contemporaries, Girtin simply recognised a good subject in the course of a journey out of London. Certainly, the view across the village pond to the embowered old house ticks all of the boxes for a picturesque subject, recalling many of the farm scenes that Girtin produced for his patron Phineas Borrett (1756–1843) around 1799 (such as TG1413 and TG1414). The mix of tiled and thatched roofs, brick chimneys, and plaster work with half timbering, used in combination to build a vernacular structure that appears to have grown organically over the centuries, makes for a highly attractive subject, and this is enhanced by the extra attention that Girtin lavished on the figures that populate the scene. In addition to the stock characters of the rider watering his horse and the woman with a bundle on her head, who appear in numerous guises in the artist’s works, there are charming vignettes of family groups, pets and a woman hanging out the washing in her garden.

Details such as this, combined with the excellent condition of the watercolour, which indicates that Girtin carefully excluded from his palette any of the more fugitive pigments that have subsequently caused so many of his works to fade and discolour, might suggest that the work was made on commission, if not for the Longs then perhaps for another patron with local connections. The only evidence to the contrary relates to the fact that the work conforms to the larger of the two standard sizes that the artist supplied after 1800 to Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer, and stylistically the watercolour does indeed appear to postdate the other Bromley subjects, and it may have been painted as late as 1801. In fact, there is some evidence to link the work to a known patron of the artist, John Jackson (d.1828), the father-in-law of Girtin’s brother John Girtin (1773–1821), whose posthumous sale included a ‘View at Widmore, near Bromley, Kent’ (Exhibitions: Foster’s, 24 April 1828, lot 324). Jackson acquired the majority of his large collection of the artist’s works through John Girtin, but he also claimed, according to early biographers of Girtin, that he ‘used to play the patron … going about with him and supplying him with money, and promising him good dinners, on condition that he should first make his host a drawing’ (Roget, 1891, p.119). It is just possible that this was the case here.

1798 - 1799

A Sandpit, near Logs Hill, Widmore


1798 - 1799

An Unidentified Landscape, Possibly the Vale of Clwyd


1799 - 1800

Barns and a Pond, Said to Be near Bromley


(?) 1799

Pinckney’s Farm, Radwinter


(?) 1799

Turver’s Farm, Wimbish


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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