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Works Thomas Girtin

Valle Crucis Abbey: The Chapter House, from the South West

1798 - 1799

Primary Image: TG1345: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Valle Crucis Abbey: The Chapter House, from the South West, 1798–99, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 24.8 × 31.1 cm, 9 ¾ × 12 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1199).

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

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
Title
  • Valle Crucis Abbey: The Chapter House, from the South West
Date
1798 - 1799
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
Dimensions
24.8 × 31.1 cm, 9 ¾ × 12 ¼ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; North Wales

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG1345
Girtin & Loshak Number
323 as 'Valle Crucis Abbey, The Church'; '1799'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001

Provenance

Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Girtin (1836–1912) (lent to London, 1875); 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

London, 1875, no.115 as 'Valle Crucis, North Wales'; Cambridge, 1920, no.36; Agnew’s, 1931, no.138; London, 1962a, no.144; Reading, 1969, no.47; New Haven, 1986a, no.76 as ’Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbyshire’

Bibliography

Davies, 1924, pl.62 as 'Valle Crucis, Herefordshire'

About this Work

This view of the East Range of the conventual buildings of Valle Crucis Abbey was almost certainly based on an untraced drawing that Girtin made on his 1798 trip to North Wales. Another sketch showing the same range of buildings, including the Chapter House with its fine fourteenth-century tracery window, was sketched in 1798 (TG1339) and used by Girtin as the basis for four studio watercolours (TG1340, TG1341, TG1342 and TG1343). Viewed from the river, the sketch of the Chapter House from the south west illustrates the way that this part of the ruins was adapted for use as a farm in the eighteenth century, though from this different angle the fate of the building is not so apparent, and Girtin has consequently added a typical farmyard scene to the ruined monastic cloister, with a woman shown tending two cows, chickens and what may be a pig, in order to reinforce the point. The fact that the identities of some of the details are not entirely clear is at least partly down to the watercolour’s faded condition, which, though it has retained its blue sky and generally sunny disposition, has seen the greens in the trees and on the distant mountain compromised, with the result that they have lost their sense of depth, and this also presumably accounts for the sketchy look of the foreground, which Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak thought was ‘unfinished’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.178). The degraded appearance of the trees in Girtin’s view is particularly unfortunate, since it is their position, growing in the body of the church, that establishes the way that nature has encroached deeply into the ruins and, indeed, threatens to overwhelm what was once an imposing structure.

(?) 1798

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

TG1339

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River

TG1340

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River

TG1341

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River

TG1342

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey, from the River

TG1343

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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