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Works (?) François Louis Thomas Francia

The Windmill

(?) 1799

Primary Image: TG1507: (?) François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839), The Windmill, (?) 1799, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 24.5 × 35.2 cm, 9 ⅝ × 13 ⅞ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1203).

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

(?) François Louis Thomas Francia (1772-1839)
  • The Windmill
(?) 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
24.5 × 35.2 cm, 9 ⅝ × 13 ⅞ in

'Girtin' on the back

Object Type
Sketching Society Drawing
Subject Terms
Wind and Water Mills

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
340 as '"The Windmill"' by Thomas Girtin; 'Jan.1800.'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911), by 1861; then by descent to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960); 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

Cambridge, 1920, no.30 as ’The Old Mill, Stanstead’ by Thomas Girtin; London, 1962a, no.149; Reading, 1969, no.33 as 'The Windmill' by Thomas Girtin; New Haven, 1986a, no.126 as 'Landscape with a Windmill ... Formerly Attributed to’ Thomas Girtin


Gibson, 1916, p.216; Davies, 1924, pl.30; Mayne, 1949, p.53; Wilcox, 1993, p.55; YCBA Online as by François Louis Thomas Francia (Accessed 17/09/2022)

About this Work

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak thought that this view of a windmill was a Sketching Society subject produced by Girtin, no doubt because it seems to have been in the family collection for over a century (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.180–81). However, Susan Morris has attributed the view to François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839), and, though in the absence of any contemporary inscription this cannot be confirmed, she is surely right to say that the sketch is not by Girtin (Morris, 1986, p.51). Morris has also rightly suggested that the drawing was made at a meeting of the Society on 7 December 1799 and that it therefore illustrates a passage from A Landscape by John Cunningham (1729–73), from Poems, Chiefly Pastoral (1766), which was chosen by the evening’s host, Thomas George Worthington (unknown dates), and which is inscribed in the Minute Book for that date:

High upon the daisy’d hill,
Rising from the slope of trees,
How the wings of yonder mill
Labour in the busy breese! (verse 9)

Windmill on a Hill

The same source records that Girtin attended the meeting too, as did Paul Sandby Munn (1773–1845), whose watercolour has been traced (see figure 1), though curiously it is dated 1800 (Sketching Society, Minute Book).1 Girtin is documented as having visited twelve of the meetings in 1799 and early 1800, though only three or perhaps four of his Sketching Society subjects have survived, and none of these include the subjects from ‘poetick passages’ that were ‘more particularly tending to Landscape’, which he himself chose from the work of James Thomson (1700–1748), Oliver Goldsmith (c.1728–74) and James Macpherson (1736–96).2

by Greg Smith


  1. 1 Details of the Society’s Laws, the names of attendees, and excerpts from the selected poems are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1799 – Item 5).
  2. 2 From an inscription on the back of Francia’s drawing Landscape Composition: Moonlight (Victoria and Albert Museum, London (477–1883)). The inscription is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1799 – Item 4).

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