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Works Thomas Girtin

The Summer House in the Garden of Samuel Wood at Southgate

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0323: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Summer House in the Garden of Samuel Wood at Southgate, 1795–96, watercolour and bodycolour on wove paper, on an original mount (watermark: J WHATMAN), 21.3 × 18 cm, 8 ⅜ × 7 ⅛ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.10).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Summer House in the Garden of Samuel Wood at Southgate
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Watercolour and bodycolour on wove paper, on an original mount (watermark: J WHATMAN)
21.3 × 18 cm, 8 ⅜ × 7 ⅛ in
Mount Dimensions
22.1 × 18.7 cm, 8 ⅝ × 7 ⅜ in

'In the garden of Mr. Samuel Wood, about 1794', on the back; ‘Summer House / at / Southgate / Rebecca Dales / in foreground’ on an old label

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
London and Environs; The Smaller House and Garden

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
123 as 'Summer-House in a Garden at Southgate'; '1795'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


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 the Museum, 1916, £10 10s


Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, p.333, no.725

About this Work

It is fortunate that this watercolour has been inscribed with the details of the subject for otherwise it would have been impossible to identify the modest summer house depicted by Girtin. Samuel Wood (1704–94) was a prosperous goldsmith whose granddaughter, Mary Howett (d.1835), married Girtin’s earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99) in 1786. It was Moore who presumably commissioned this watercolour. Southgate was then a small village, located about fifteen kilometres from the centre of London, from where Wood was said, even in the ‘last two years of his life … to ride on horseback to town, every week, to transact business at Goldsmith’s-hall, being the father and oldest member of that company’.1 Other than the family connection, Moore’s motive in commissioning a view of a corner of Wood’s garden is not known, though it may be linked to the woman shown in the foreground, who is noted in an old label as ‘Rebbeca Dales’, though she remains unidentified. 

Given that so many of Moore’s commissions to Girtin were worked from the patron’s own amateurish sketches, it is unlikely that the artist made the journey to Southgate himself. The watercolour has faded badly, in contrast to the bulk of the drawings Girtin made for Moore, suggesting that as an object of personal significance it may have been framed for display by the patron. The work’s poor condition makes dating it difficult, but I suspect that it was probably made a year or so after Wood’s death, perhaps around 1795–96, and that it therefore had a quasi-memorial function.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.64, part 2, October 1794, p.966

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