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Works Henry Edridge

Thomas Girtin Sketching

(?) 1801

Primary Image: TG1923: Henry Edridge (1769–1821), Thomas Girtin Sketching, (?) 1801, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 11.1 × 5.5 cm, 4 ⅜ × 2 ⅛ in. British Museum, London (1845,0818.1.1).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Henry Edridge (1769-1821)
  • Thomas Girtin Sketching
(?) 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
11.1 × 5.5 cm, 4 ⅜ × 2 ⅛ in

'Girtin' lower centre, by Henry Edridge; '[?] Hearne' lower centre, (?) in another hand

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Portrait of Thomas Girtin

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Henry Rice; his sale, Christie's, 24 April 1845, unknown lot; bought by the Museum, 1845


Miller, 1854, p.164; Mayne, 1949, reproduced on the title page and dust cover; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.220; Smith, 2002b, p.114

About this Work

Thomas Hearne Sketching at Bushey Mill

This drawing of Girtin sketching out of doors, seated on a folding chair, is the only image we have of him at work, in this case sketching from nature. It was made by Henry Edridge (1768–1821), who seems to have known the artist from his earliest days working for Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and who, as a friend and colleague, attended his funeral a few years later. A similar image of Thomas Hearne (1744–1817) also sketching in the field is inscribed ‘at Bushey Mill 23 June 1801’ (see figure 1), and it may be that the study of Girtin was drawn at the same time, perhaps on a visit to the artists’ mutual patron George Capel-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex (1757–1839), who lived at the nearby estate of Cassiobury Park (for example, see TG1571). Other sketches of Girtin by Edridge have been recorded at various times, including ‘T. Girtin R. A., seated in a landscape’ (sold at Christie’s, 1 May 1863, lot 339) as well as a portrait miniature (TG1928), and it is clear that the two artists were in the habit of working together.1 It is likely, therefore, that this drawing is an accurate record of Girtin’s smart appearance as well as of his manner of sketching in a seated position, working on a sheet of paper rather than in a sketchbook, and with a porte crayon

Girtin Sketching with a Portable Easel

Another image of an artist sketching, which is also inscribed ‘Girtin’, was located in a private collection during the production of this online catalogue (see figure 2). It has not been possible to identify the author of the image, though its poor quality, together with its provenance, suggests an amateur artist associated with Monro, and it would certainly appear to date from around the time of Girtin’s career. However, although the costume details accord with Edridge’s image of Girtin, there is no way of definitively establishing whether the image shows the watercolourist at work or whether the inscription was added at a later date to a drawing of an artist of similar appearance. The status of the drawing, and in particular its veracity as a document, is of great interest because the image appears to show an artist working from nature on a large scale using a portable easel. I have so far found no comparable written or visual image of a watercolourist at this date using such an easel. Though Girtin certainly did make a number of large colour sketches on the spot during his tour of North Wales in 1798 – such as The Cain Falls (Pistyll Cain) (TG1319) – I am very cautious about using this image as evidence of his working practice in general. Further research may well help to clarify the drawing’s status, but in the meantime I am inclined to believe that Girtin would have used his travelling portfolio as a support even for larger sketches such The Cain Falls.

1800 - 1801

The Sawmill, Cassiobury Park


(?) 1796

Portrait Miniature of Thomas Girtin


(?) 1798

The Cain Falls (Pistyll Cain), near Dolgellau


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 This may have been 'the pencil sketch of the Artist, by H. Edridge, A.R.A., lent by Capt. De Kantzow' to the centenary exhibition organised by the Burlington Fine Arts Club (London, 1875, no number).

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