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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

The Spire of Salisbury Cathedral, from Chorister's Green

1793 - 1794

Primary Image: TG0219: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), The Spire of Salisbury Cathedral, from Chorister's Green, 1793–94, graphite on wove paper, 24 × 17.5 cm, 9 ½ × 7 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • The Spire of Salisbury Cathedral, from Chorister's Green
1793 - 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
24 × 17.5 cm, 9 ½ × 7 in
Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; Wiltshire View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912; sold through the Leicester Galleries, London, 1912, £3 3s; Sir Albert Charles Seward (1863–1941) (lent to Cambridge, 1920); ... Sir John Clermont Witt (1908–82); his widow, Lady Margaret Witt (1910–84); her posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 19 February 1987, lot 79, £2,200

Exhibition History

Cambridge, 1920, no.49


Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.210 as 'Untraced ... The Spire of Salisbury Cathedral'

About this Work

Salisbury Cathedral from the Chorister's Green

Girtin travelled to the West Country in the autumn of 1797 and it might be expected that this view of the north transept and spire of Salisbury Cathedral was made on the spot during that trip. However, the drawing came from the collection of Girtin’s first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and, because the vast majority of the works Moore owned were made after the sketches of other artists, including his own, one is alerted to that possibility here. In fact, the drawing follows very closely the left side of a watercolour by Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), from 1793, Salisbury Cathedral from the Choristers’ Green (see figure 1), including the idiosyncratic way the house to the left is cut. Moreover, in a detail that makes it inconceivable that the drawing was made on the spot at a later date, an area of the nave that in Dayes’ watercolour is obscured by a tree is left blank by Girtin in his sketch. As the overlay of drawing and watercolour illustrates, there is a degree of congruence between the two images, which, given that Girtin could not have travelled to Salisbury by 1793, can only be explained as the result of copying or even tracing. The tree was simply omitted because it was only the architectural details that were of interest to the young artist.

Moore, in turn, was at Salisbury in the summer of 1791, when he dated a view of the west front of the cathedral 29 June (Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (1975.3.621)). It is quite possible, therefore, that rather than copying Dayes’ watercolour – or, more probably, the pencil drawing on which it was based – Girtin again worked from an untraced sketch by Moore showing the north flank of the cathedral. In which case the watercolour by Dayes would have been made after the same common source: a sketch by Moore. Furthermore, although it is not easy to judge from the poor photograph, it is just possible that the reason Moore’s drawing is missing is that Girtin actually worked over his patron’s weak and indecisive lines. This was often his practice at this date, as illustrated by the twenty or so sheets in an album in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, including TG0223a and TG0282, which appear to be the joint efforts of the two artists, one working on the spot and the other enhancing the sketch back in London.

(?) 1795

The Landgate, Rye


(?) 1795

St Mary the Virgin, Eastbourne


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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