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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) John Henderson

The Town of Rye, Seen from the Marshes

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0241: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) John Henderson (1764–1843), The Town of Rye, Seen from the Marshes, 1795–96, graphite on wove paper, 18.9 × 27.1 cm, 7 ⁷⁄₁₆ × 10 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1160).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) John Henderson (1764-1843)
  • The Town of Rye, Seen from the Marshes
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
18.9 × 27.1 cm, 7 ⁷⁄₁₆ × 10 ⅝ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping; Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Sussex View

The Town of Rye, Seen from the Marshes (TG1752)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
94i as '1795'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie’s, 16 May 1881, lot 391 (9 items); bought by 'Palser', £3 5s; J. Palser & Sons; Edward Cohen (1816–87); then by bequest to his niece, Isabella Oswald (1838–1905); her posthumous sale, Robins & Hine, 30 March 1905, lot unknown; bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), £1; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

New Haven, 1986a, no.31

About this Work

This pencil drawing, showing the hilltop coastal town of Rye from the marshes to the south east, was used by Girtin as the basis for at least one studio watercolour (TG1752). The panoramic view with a sunset effect was produced for John Henderson (1764–1843) and, as so often was the case with the works that Girtin created for him, it is likely that its source was ultimately a sketch taken by the patron himself, though this has not been traced. At one point it was thought that Girtin had travelled to Sussex in 1795 with another early patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and that he had made a number of sketches in the county (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28). However, the majority of Girtin’s views of antiquarian subjects in the county can be shown to be copies after Moore, whilst the coastal scenes, as here, appear to be after Henderson, and it is improbable that this image was sketched from nature. The view Rye, from the River Tillingham (TG0846), which Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) appear to have collaborated on to create a work for another early patron, Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), also seems to have been made after a sketch by Henderson, and it is surely not a coincidence that the Rye view and this outline drawing share the same measurements as well as a similar approach to the subject. The two works would, I suggest, make for a good pairing, and one can well imagine that Turner could have transformed this outline into something comparable to the other Rye view – from the river Tillingham – with the addition of just a few washes of blue and grey. Indeed, perhaps this is what we are looking at here – the first stage in the production of a Monro School subject – though the fact that it was also used by Girtin as the basis for a later studio watercolour must mean that he kept the drawing, and, indeed, it was perhaps at this point that it acquired the spots of colour on the front and back.



1796 - 1797

The Town of Rye, Seen from the Marshes


1795 - 1796

Rye, from the River Tillingham


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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