For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Unidentified Buildings, Herne Hill

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG1454: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Unidentified Buildings, Herne Hill, 1795–96, graphite and pen and ink on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN), 11 × 19 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 ½ in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Gilbert Davis Collection (59.55.596).

Photo courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Gilbert Davis Collection (All Rights Reserved)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Unidentified Buildings, Herne Hill
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and pen and ink on wove paper (watermark: J WHATMAN)
11 × 19 cm, 4 ⅜ × 7 ½ in

‘Herne Hill’ lower centre, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
London and Environs

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
177 as 'Called Herne Hill'; '1796–7'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 29 May 1935, lot 313; volume bought by Bernard Squire, £32; Gilbert Davis (1899–1983); bought from him by the Gallery, 1959

Exhibition History

Squire Gallery, 1939, no.50

About this Work

This view of an undistinguished row of buildings in Herne Hill, south of London, comes from a volume of Girtin’s pencil drawings that was put together by John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929). The drawings come from all phases of the artist’s career, covering a variety of subjects (for example, see TG1093 and TG1339), but none of them employ the heavy and unvarying outlines seen here, and there must therefore be some doubt about the attribution of the work to Girtin. That said, the inscription is not dissimilar to Girtin’s hand, and it may be that the crude outlines mean that the work was traced from another source. The support used is a wove paper with a Whatman watermark, just the sort that Girtin employed at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where tracing images from other artists was a staple part of his work with his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851). However, the works copied by the two artists invariably had a picturesque interest that is singly lacking in this view of a nondescript recently constructed terrace, which appears to have been depicted from an area of waste ground. It is hard to believe that this was the home of a patron, and one cannot imagine it providing the basis of a country house portrait of the sort that Girtin produced throughout his career. However, the unconventional nature of the image, somewhat comparable to the sketch that Girtin made of St George’s Row, Tyburn (TG1745), where he lived towards the end of his life, might actually constitute the soundest grounds on which to attribute the drawing to the artist. That said, how and why he came to depict a scene in rural Herne Hill will remain unknown unless something more can be discovered about the drawing’s early history or the artist’s connection to the subject. Hern Hill, as it was then known, was little more than a hamlet at this date, however, and the list of ratepayers does not include any name than can be associated with the artist (Nurse, 2016, p.15).

(?) 1796

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


(?) 1798

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River; Studies of Seated Figures


(?) 1801

St George’s Row, Tyburn


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.