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Works Thomas Girtin

The West Front of St Paul’s Cathedral

1790 - 1791

Primary Image: TG0043: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The West Front of St Paul's Cathedral, 1790–91, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 12.8 cm, 5 in diameter. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.127).

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

Print after: Charles Taylor (1756–1828), after Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), engraving, 'Front of St. Paul's, London' for The Temple of Taste, no.9, 1 July 1795, 12.5 cm, 4 ⅞ in. Reprinted in The Public Edifices of the British Metropolis, no.1, 1820. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The West Front of St Paul’s Cathedral
1790 - 1791
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
12.8 cm, 5 in diam.

‘T Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘SAINT PAULS’ lower centre; ‘1594’ outside the roundel

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London Architecture

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
5 as 'Front of St. Paul's, London'; '1790'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2016


J. Jackson (according to Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.134); ... Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


Mayne, 1949, p.25, p.98; Girtin, 1952, p.115; Brown, 1982, p.318, no.695

About this Work

Girtin’s signed drawing for the ninth plate of the periodical The Temple of Taste, published by Charles Taylor (1756–1823) on 1 July 1795, dates from significantly earlier and it was probably made after the work of an older, established artist. The text by Taylor that accompanies the engraving notes that ‘the Artist has availed himself of a licence allowable … in order to present a more complete view of this magnificent edifice than any spot in the confined area which actually surrounds it would permit’ and that he has ‘enlarged the space that surrounds the building very considerably’. This is another way of saying that the building is presented as an architectural elevation and in a manner that required little skill in perspective from either the original artist or the later copyist. Taylor characteristically frames his account of the architectural story of St Paul’s with a patriotic boast, claiming that in terms of ‘magnitude’ and ‘magnificence … it is inferior to none in Europe, except St Peter’s at Rome’, safe in the knowledge that with travel to the Continent halted by war such claims could not be tested. In all Girtin may have made as many as twenty-one drawings for Taylor’s publication, though this is one of only six that are known to survive.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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