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Works Thomas Girtin

The Pont Neuf and the Mint: Pencil Study for Plate Eight of Picturesque Views in Paris


Primary Image: TG1874: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Pont Neuf and the Mint: Pencil Study for Plate Eight of 'Picturesque Views in Paris', 1802, graphite on three pieces of laid paper, 16 × 12 cm and 16 × 22.5 cm and 16 × 24 cm (16 × 58.5 cm); 6 ¼ × 4 ¾ in and 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in and 6 ¼ × 9 ⅜ in (6 ¼ × 23 in). British Museum, London (1868,0328.351).

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

Print after: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), soft-ground etching and drypoint, The Pont Neuf and the Mint, 16 July 1802, 20 × 57.2 cm, 7 ⅞ × 22 ½ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.10899).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Pont Neuf and the Mint: Pencil Study for Plate Eight of Picturesque Views in Paris
Medium and Support
Graphite on three pieces of laid paper
16 × 12 cm and 16 × 22.5 cm and 16 × 24 cm (16 × 58.5 cm); 6 ¼ × 4 ¾ in and 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in and 6 ¼ × 9 ⅜ in (6 ¼ × 23 in)
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; Panoramic Format; Paris and Environs; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
465 as 'The Pont-Neuf and the Mint'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


John Girtin (1773–1821); bought by John Jackson (d.1828); his posthumous sale, Foster’s, 24 April 1828, lot 321; bought by 'Tiffin'; ... 'Colnaghi'; bought from them by the Museum, 1868


Binyon, 1898–1907, no.71; Sparrow, 1902; Halliday, 1983, p.289

About this Work

This view of the Pont Neuf and the Mint was drawn on the spot by Girtin early in 1802 in preparation for plate eight of his Picturesque Views in Paris (see print after TG1874a). Frustrated in his attempt to show his London panorama in Paris, Girtin took up the suggestion of his patron Sir George Howland Beaumont (1753–1827) and made a series of detailed pencil drawings of the French capital, which he reproduced as soft-ground etchings on his return to London in May, though they were not finally published until after his death, with the addition of aquatint to create tones similar to those in his watercolours (Hardie, 1966–68, vol.2, p.8; Smith, 2017–18, pp.32–35). The brief cessation of hostilities between Britain and France, known as the Peace of Amiens, attracted thousands of British visitors to Paris, and so Girtin’s prints were targeted at a tourist audience keen for souvenirs of their trip and who prized carefully rendered details of the city’s buildings and inhabitants. To ensure such fidelity, Girtin appears to have employed a camera obscura for about half of the pencil drawings, and the modest size of this instrument required him to use small pieces of paper from which he assembled his mostly panoramic images of the scenery along the river Seine. All but one of the supports used by Girtin in the twenty-one Paris sketches he produced has been identified by the paper historian Peter Bower as the same cream laid writing paper, made by the Blauw and Briel company in Holland (Smith, 2002b, p.141; Bower, Report). This, he believes, was bought by Girtin in Paris, and it may have been made up to twenty years earlier. 

Girtin’s soft-ground etching (see the print after, above) was published separately from the finished aquatint, on 16 July 1802, with numerous figures added to the foreground. To create this autograph print, the artist first traced his own drawing, reversing the image in the process (see figure 1), and then, using the tracing as a template, impressed the lines onto an etching plate coated in a tacky ground of an acid-resistant mix. Lifting the tracing and taking away the ground where the lines had been pushed in, he would then have immersed the plate in acid, which would have bitten into the unprotected areas. Cleaned up, the plate, with the etched lines now according with the direction of Girtin’s original drawing, could then be used to print from. Such a complex procedure employed by a novice printmaker like Girtin no doubt required a number of proof stages. An early impression of this plate (see figure 2) lacks a number of small details in the figures, which Girtin seems to have added on the plate in drypoint. 

Girtin’s view, one of three looking east downriver from positions adjacent to the Louvre, consequently shares a number of features with plates six and seven (see prints after TG1871a and TG1872a). However, from closer to the Pont Neuf, the towers of Notre Dame are no longer visible and nor is the Palais de l’Institut de France, with the Mint coming into prominence instead. The Hôtel des Monnaies, completed on the Quai Conti in 1775 to house the Mint, is the subject of a separate, more detailed drawing by Girtin (TG1875). In comparison with the pencil drawing, where the foreground is left all but empty, the print is notable for a fine array of figures, including a troupe of cavalry as well as elegant and well-dressed groups strolling along the quays. Clearly, it was not practical to sketch passing figures on the spot, not least because this was just months after the beginning of the short-lived Peace of Amiens, and Girtin presumably improvised them on the tracing. However, at least one of the figures appears in a sheet of studies that the artist made at this time (TG1900), though the image of the small man with his stick shown to the far right is reversed. This appears to have been copied from a work by Jean-Baptiste Lallemand (1716–1803), rather than having been sketched on the spot. 


The Pont Neuf and the Mint: Colour Study for Plate Eight of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’



The Tuileries Palace and the Pont Royal, Taken from the Pont de la Concorde: Colour Study for Plate Six of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’



The Pont Neuf, Part of the Louvre, Notre Dame and the College of the Four Nations: Colour Study for Plate Seven of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’



Part of the Pont Neuf, with the Mint: Pencil Study for Plate Eight of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’


1801 - 1802

A Sheet of Figure Studies Relating to ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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