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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1343: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 21.1 × 29.5 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1196).

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

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
21.1 × 29.5 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; North Wales; River Scenery

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River; Studies of Seated Figures (TG1339)
Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River (TG1340)
Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River (TG1341)
Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River (TG1342)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
292i as 'Valle Crucis Abbey'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2021


Charles James Pooley (1836–1900); his sale, Christie’s, 6 March 1880, lot 28; bought by Grundy & Smith, 19 gns; Alfred Aspland (1815-80); his posthumous sale, Capes, Dunn, and Pilcher, Manchester, 1 May 1883, lot 30, unsold; Sotheby's, 27 January 1885, no.167; bought by 'Palser', £6 15s; J. Palser & Sons (stock no.2510); bought by 'Wesley', 28 March 1885; George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911), by 1890; 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.35; Agnew’s, 1931, no.109; London, 1962a, no.139; New Haven, 1986a, no.127


YCBA Online as by an 'Imitator of' Thomas Girtin (Accessed 16/09/2022)

About this Work

Susan Morris, in her catalogue of the collection of Girtin’s work at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, argued that this view of Valle Crucis Abbey is a ‘nineteenth-century copy after Girtin’, reproducing one of the three other versions of the composition (TG1340, TG1341 and TG1342) (Morris, 1986, p.127). The work came to the Center for British Art, along with the majority of its works by Girtin, from the family collection, which was built up over generations, and perhaps not surprisingly it was catalogued by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, in contrast, as an authentic work. Moreover, given that they placed it first in their list of versions of the composition, they presumably thought that it was actually the primary model from which the other watercolours were made as replicas (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.174). I am not sure I agree with either of these contrasting views, however. I can certainly see where Morris is coming from in terms of the poor quality of the work, but the signature looks convincing and, on balance, I suspect the watercolour’s faded condition, combined with the requirement to make multiple versions of a composition, resulted in a version that is less than convincing, if only marginally so. Looking at the four seemingly identical versions of the composition, all executed on the same scale and with similar palettes (which, in each case, has led to deterioration in their condition), is a chastening experience for those of us who associate Girtin with a superior creativity and originality. But on the other hand, and looking at the issue in a more positive light, it is possible to be consoled by the fact that Girtin was able to create a successful commodity that tapped into the market for picturesque views of Welsh scenery that arose from the region’s increasing popularity with tourists, and, at the same time, had a level-headed attitude to meeting the resulting demand, even if, as here, it compromised his standards.

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River


1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River


1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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