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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

The River Wye at New Weir

1791 - 1792

Primary Image: TG0067: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The River Wye at New Weir, 1791–92, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 15.3 × 23.5 cm, 6 × 9 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, Agnew's, London (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The River Wye at New Weir
1791 - 1792
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
15.3 × 23.5 cm, 6 × 9 ¼ in

‘Tho Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Scene near the New Weir / Monmouth' on the back; 'T. Girtin’ on the back. Previously recorded inscription: ‘in the collection of J Walker 1792’ on the back.

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
River Scenery; South Wales; The Wye Valley

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


'J. Walker', 1792; ... Charles Lewes Parker; his sale, Christie’s, 15 May 1875, lot 29 as 'Tintern - a pair', 17 gns; ... Christie's, 27 January 1922, lot 36 with TG0058; Christie's, 3 March 1922, lot 27 with TG0058; bought by 'Hibbard', £39 18s; Frederick Huth; then by descent; Sotheby’s, 17 February 1954, lot 17; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, £110 (stock no.7419); ... Thos. Agnew & Sons, 2001; Segundo J. Fernandez and Carolyn Hulsey Fernandez

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1955, no.23, £175; Agnew’s, 2001, no.33; Gainesville, 2001, no.48

About this Work

Views of the River Wye

A now lost inscription notes that this work, like its pair, Tintern Abbey, from the River Wye (TG0058), dates to 1792 at the latest, and it is therefore likely to have been produced by a young Girtin whilst still apprenticed to Edward Dayes (1763–1804). This early date is confirmed by the artist’s crude articulation of the various components of the composition, as rocks and trees merge into each other without inhabiting a credible space, and by its schematic depiction of the water, which is typical of other early works, such as Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057) and Durham Cathedral, from the River Wear (TG0012). As with the view of Tintern Abbey, this watercolour must have been made after the work of another artist, and Girtin did not visit the famously picturesque Wye valley either as an apprentice or later in his career. The source of Girtin’s composition is again likely to have been a sketch by Dayes, but the issue is less clear-cut here. A view of the Wye at New Weir was included in Dayes’ collection of aquatints, Views of the River Wye, published in 1800 (see figure 1). However, there are a number of differences, suggesting either that Girtin worked from another untraced view by Dayes, taken from further upriver, or that he felt confident enough to adapt his master’s composition. In particular, Girtin changed the angle of the Longstone shown to the left of the composition and altered the form of the overhanging rock in the centre, the famous viewing point over the Wye at Symonds Yat, which in Girtin’s view is fancifully illuminated by a rainbow. A view by Thomas Hearne (1744–1817), taken from almost exactly the same point, suggests that Dayes’ watercolour was the more topographically accurate and that the limitations of Girtin’s composition stemmed from a misreading of his master’s sketch, always a possibility when working from a secondary source.

Intriguingly, Girtin did add one feature barely apparent in Dayes’ view – the busy iron manufactory on the opposite bank. Many of the tourists who flocked to the river Wye to enjoy its picturesque scenery and to climb Yat Rock also included a visit to the forge, and, as C. Suzanne Matheson has pointed out, images of this stretch of the river often include depictions of the lime kilns, stone quarries, and iron and tin works that dotted its banks (Matheson, 2007). Dayes was more mindful of one detail omitted by Girtin, however; a barge is being towed upriver and through the lock that was built to bypass the weir. Not having visited the site, Girtin was at a disadvantage when it came to details such as this, which could help to complete a credible scene of labour specific to the locality.

1791 - 1792

Tintern Abbey, from the River Wye


(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway



Durham Cathedral, from the River Wear


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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