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Works Thomas Girtin

The Ruins of Old Mulgrave Castle (page 49 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1625: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Ruins of Old Mulgrave Castle, (?) 1800, graphite on wove paper, 14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in. The Whitworth, The University of Manchester (D.1977.15.48).

Photo courtesy of The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Photo by Michael Pollard (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Ruins of Old Mulgrave Castle (page 49 of the Whitworth Book of Drawings)
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
14.6 × 21.7 cm, 5 ¾ × 8 ½ in

‘Ruins in Lord Mulgrave’s Park’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘11’ upper left.; ‘88’ lower left

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
425 as 'Ruins of Old Mulgrave Castle, Yorkshire'; '1801'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and 2022


Sale at Platt Vicarage, Rusholme, Manchester, 1898; sketchbook bought by 'Shepherd'; then by descent to F. W. Shepherd; his sale, Sotheby’s, 7 July 1977, lot 46; bought by Baskett and Day; bought by the Gallery, 1977


Hardie, 1938–39, no.23; Lyles, 1994b, p.24

About this Work

This sketch of the remains of the fourteenth-century Mulgrave Castle in North Yorkshire, a kilometre away from its eighteenth-century replacement, is found on page forty-nine of the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600–1625). This and another more distant view of the ruins, looking across the park designed by Humphry Repton (1752–1818) (TG1626), were sketched during the artist’s stay with Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave (1755–1831) at the new castle near Sandsend. The famous diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821) noted that Lord Mulgrave had recalled that ‘Girtin was with Him a little time at Mulgrave Castle’ at a point when he ‘laboured under symptoms of an Asthma which not long afterwards killed him’ (Farington, Diary, 24 May 1807), and Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak interpreted this to mean that the artist had travelled north again in the spring of 1801 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.41). Mulgrave’s testimony, and the fact that Girtin did not produce his watercolour of Sandsend until 1802 (TG1702), is not quite enough to convince me that the sketches were taken in a year other than 1800, however, not least because Girtin was documented as travelling as far north as the Scottish Borders in that year, and Mulgrave Castle could have been taken in on the way (Jenkins, Notes, 1852). A date of 1800 would therefore appear to be more suitable for the sketches of the park, together with others that Girtin took along the coast stretching from Sandsend to Whitby (such as TG1609 and TG1628), including a series of views of shipping (including TG1623).

Somewhat surprisingly, Girtin’s stay at Mulgrave Castle and the sketches that he made there did not result in any commissions for views of Lord Mulgrave’s property, or of the newly landscaped park. The family certainly owned a couple of Girtin’s watercolours, The Ruined Chancel, Netley Abbey (TG0354) and Rome: The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina (TG0888), and a sale in 1873 listed a ‘Coast from Sandsend. Presented by the artist to Hon. E. Phipps’, but the fine studio watercolour of Sandsend (TG1702) was almost certainly not from their collection (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 29 May 1873, lot 78). According to Farington, Lord Mulgrave ‘spoke with much regard of the memory of Girtin the Artist’ and ‘He thought him a good natured open dispositioned man’ (Farington, Diary, 24 May 1807), but this was not enough, it seems, to have secured him a commission, and it is telling that Girtin probably produced Sandsend for sale on the open market through Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer. The fact that a time-consuming and presumably costly detour to Mulgrave did not result in any return for the artist points to the dangers of depending on the patronage of the landed classes. It also helps to explain why it was that Girtin turned to Reynolds to sell his watercolours.

(?) 1800

Mulgrave Park and Castle, from near Epsyke Farm





(?) 1800



(?) 1800

A Distant View of Whitby


(?) 1800

Five Craft off the Coast on a Calm Sea


(?) 1797

The Ruined Chancel, Netley Abbey


1799 - 1800

Rome: The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina





by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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