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Works Thomas Girtin

The Thames from the Temple to Blackfriars: Outline Study for the Eidometropolis, Section Five

(?) 1801

Primary Image: TG1856: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Thames from the Temple to Blackfriars: Outline Study for the 'Eidometropolis', Section Five, (?) 1801, graphite and pen and ink on wove paper, 44.8 × 16.2 cm, 17 ⅝ × 6 ⅜ in. Private Collection, USA.

Photo courtesy of Private Collection, USA (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Thames from the Temple to Blackfriars: Outline Study for the Eidometropolis, Section Five
(?) 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and pen and ink on wove paper
44.8 × 16.2 cm, 17 ⅝ × 6 ⅜ in

'1833' lower centre, by a later hand

Object Type
Outline Drawing; Study for a Panorama
Subject Terms
City Life and Labour; London and Environs; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Photograph provided by the owner


Roderick D. Zinsser, Jr., USA


Smith, 2018, p.58

About this Work

This view of the north bank of the Thames, from the Temple to Blackfriars, was made by Girtin in preparation for the painting of his 360-degree panorama of London, which opened to the public in August 1802 as the Eidometropolis. Sometime in 1801, Girtin took up a position at the river end of the roof of Albion Place Terrace (see TG1850 figure 1), from where he had an uninterrupted view of the city. Using a perspective frame as a guide, he made this, the fifth of seven detailed outline drawings that complete a full circuit. Six of these survive, each of which has a grid superimposed on it made up of squares that correspond to one square foot of the monumental circular canvas employed for the painted panorama (Smith, 2018, pp.45–46). The drawings were then passed over to the artist’s assistants, whose first task was to transfer Girtin’s outlines onto a canvas that, according to the advertisements taken out by the artist, measured ‘1944 square feet’ (about 180 square metres) – that is, 18 ft high (5.5 m) with a circumference of 108 ft (5.5 × 33 m) – taking care to modify the straight lines so that they did not appear bent on the circular surface. The function of the outline drawings was therefore quite different from anything else seen in Girtin’s output; they prioritised the recording of accurate topographical information for the use of others to create a template that could then be painted in oil to produce the deceptive effect of the final 360-degree view. 

This newly discovered drawing contains a wealth of detail of the buildings on the north side of the Thames, even though they are concentrated into a narrow band beyond the river. To the left, the scene is dominated by the buildings of the Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, based around the open space of the Inner Temple Gardens. These give way to the commercial and industrial buildings adjacent to Blackfriars Bridge, including the grand premises of the New River Office, with the Whitefriars Glasshouse behind, and a monumental warehouse at the Grand Junction Wharf. Intriguingly, the last of these is surrounded in scaffolding in this outline drawing, whilst the building is shown in a finished state in the colour study, suggesting either that the colour version was made at a later date or, more probably, that the artist imagined what the building would look like by the time that the panorama opened in 1802. As with section three (TG1854), Girtin therefore, presents a convincing image of the city in a state of dynamic flux, expanding its industrial and trading infrastructure even in the close vicinity of the historical heartland of the Temple (Smith, 2018, pp.57–58). 

The support employed for all of the pencil sketches for the panorama is a white wove drawing paper, which the paper historian Peter Bower has suggested was probably made by the Balston and Hollingworth Brothers Partnership at Turkey Mill, Maidstone, Kent (Smith, 2002b, p.196; Bower, Report). 

(?) 1801

Westminster and Lambeth: Colour Study for the ‘Eidometropolis’, Section Three


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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