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Works Thomas Girtin

Two Boats at Low Tide

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1810: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Two Boats at Low Tide, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 26.5 × 36.5 cm, 10 ⅜ × 14 ⅜ in. Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery (1953P222).

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Two Boats at Low Tide
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
26.5 × 36.5 cm, 10 ⅜ × 14 ⅜ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Coasts and Shipping

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
429 as '"Low Tide"'; '1801'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Leger Galleries, London; James Leslie Wright (1862–1954); presented to the Museum, 1953

Exhibition History

Leger Galleries, 1948, no.30; London, 1949, no.187; Midland Federation, 1957, no.22; Lyons, 1966, no.56; Prague, 1969, no.66; Bourges, 1970, no.54; Birmingham, 1980, no.32

About this Work

This badly faded watercolour, which shows two beached vessels at low tide, is closely related to a sketch in the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1622). The pencil drawing, which appears to have been made on the spot on Girtin’s visit to the North Yorkshire coast in 1800, includes the same motif of a double-masted vessel, with the sloop in full sail behind, though it features a different landscape setting. The low cliff with a line of buildings could indeed pass for any number of places on the north-east coast, unlike the estuarine scene shown here, which has more of a West Country feel to it. I suspect, therefore, that the artist combined a shipping scene viewed in one location with a landscape from another area, though the latter is unlikely to be identified, so sparing are the topographical features.

After he completed his work for John Henderson (1764–1843) – which around 1795 included numerous shipping scenes, primarily in the vicinity of Dover and on the Kent and Sussex coasts – Girtin showed only sporadic interest in naval scenes. Port views, particularly in the West Country, naturally include boats and their associated activities, but this watercolour is a rare case of where the vessels are the main focus of the scene. This is so much the case that were it not for the existence of the pencil sketch, one might be tempted to question the attribution of the work.

(?) 1800

Beached Vessels at Low Tide


by Greg Smith

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