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Works (?) Edward Dayes

The River Thames at Putney

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0164: (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The River Thames at Putney, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper, 35.6 × 47.6 cm, 14 × 18 ¾ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), after Edward Dayes (1763–1804), etching and engraving, 'Putney-Bridge' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.3, no.58, pl.116, 1 November 1796, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. British Museum, London (1862,0712.921).

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

(?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The River Thames at Putney
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper
35.6 × 47.6 cm, 14 × 18 ¾ in
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Formerly attributed to Thomas Girtin; Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; London and Environs; River Scenery; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
59 as 'Putney' by Thomas Girtin 'After Dayes'; '1793'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Walker's Galleries, London, 1921, £150; Sidney Lovell Phipson (1851–1929); his sale, Anderson Galleries, New York, 15 November 1923, lot 76 as by Thomas Girtin; ... Christie's, 9 July 1985, lot 83 as by Edward Dayes, £2,592

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1921, no.56 as by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak catalogued this watercolour, showing Putney with the tower of St Mary’s Church and the old wooden bridge that spanned the Thames, as by Girtin and dated it to 1793 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.141–42). They recorded that the same view was engraved as ‘from an Original Drawing by E. Dayes’ (see the print after, above) but concluded that the print was made from another, untraced drawing by Edward Dayes (1763–1804) that lacked details such as the recalcitrant horse shown in the foreground of this watercolour. However, the theory that The River Thames at Putney is an example of the young apprentice appropriating a composition from his master has not stood the test of time, and when it appeared at auction in 1985, the attribution was changed, surely correctly, to Dayes. The differences between the engraving and Dayes’ watercolour can be explained by the need of the engraver to simplify the process of translation by removing some of the figures and substituting the complex cloudscape with a generic one.

Girtin and Loshak’s error is understandable and, indeed, highly instructive. Girtin had mastered every aspect of his master’s practice during the short period of his apprenticeship and it is worth asking how many works, such as the hitherto unknown view Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057), might have been attributed to Dayes had they not been signed. In fact, both artists invariably signed their works at this date, presumably to avoid confusion in the marketplace, and it is likely that this watercolour was too, but that Dayes’ signature was on a mount that was later removed.

The River Thames at Putney is one of eight watercolours that were sold at Walker’s Galleries in London in 1921; they were said to have been commissioned from the young Girtin and had subsequently remained in the same family collection (Exhibititions: Walker’s Galleries, 1921). The group included views of Hereford Cathedral (TG0070), Warwick Castle (TG0168), Chepstow Castle (TG0170), Lindisfarne Priory (TG0210), Warkworth Castle (TG0177) and Valle Crucis Abbey (TG0208), none of which Girtin could have visited, and all of the watercolours seem to have been made after compositions by either Dayes or James Moore (1762–99), Girtin’s first patron. If this work, uniquely amongst the group, is by Dayes, it suggests that the commission as a whole came to the young artist through his continuing association with his master and that Dayes did not consign the watercolours to the auction houses, as with Rochester Castle, from the River Medway; indeed, it is not possible to see how the work of teacher and pupil could have remained together had that been the case. The income from the sale of the works may still have gone to Girtin’s master, however, as part of the price of paying off his indentures, and this would explain why Girtin still had access to Dayes’ sketches after he left his studio, whenever that may have been.

(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


1792 - 1793

Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1792 - 1793

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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