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Works Thomas Girtin

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG1093: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet, (?) 1796, graphite on wove paper, 17 × 24.4 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 9 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1178).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
17 × 24.4 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 9 ⅝ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Durham and Northumberland; River Scenery

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet (TG1094)
Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet (TG1711)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
161i as 'Warkworth Castle'
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; Walter James Redfern Turner (d.1945); his posthumous sale, Sotheby's, 2 June 1948, lot 129; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, £18 (stock no.6012); bought from them by Tom Girtin (1913–94), 1950; bought from him by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1950, no.15; London, 1962a, no.134; New Haven, 1982, III.18.; New Haven, 1986a, no.48

About this Work

This pencil sketch of Warkworth Castle, looking north west from the banks of the river Coquet, was almost certainly made in 1796 on Girtin’s first independent sketching tour. Only one of the twenty or so pencil drawings and on-the-spot colour sketches that survive from the trip is dated, but it is still broadly possible to trace Girtin’s progress through Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders from the titles of the works that he sent to the 1797 Royal Academy exhibition, and from the dated watercolours that were subsequently produced from these and other untraced sketches. In this case, neither of the two watercolours that Girtin executed from this sketch is dated (TG1094 and TG1711), but an engraving that was made from another Warkworth view is inscribed ‘May 1st 1797’ (TG1099), confirming that this tour was the occasion for its creation.

Both of the watercolours are very close to the sketch of Warkworth Castle, and a striking similarity between the source and the finished work is indeed a feature of the studies Girtin made on the 1796 tour. Only a handful of them were not used as the basis for studio watercolours, and it is clear that Girtin carefully selected views that would make powerful compositions – unlike his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), he did not make numerous drawings as a way of getting to know a subject. For Girtin, the act of sketching was therefore just as much a matter of composing as it was of recording the details of a site. In this case, the viewpoint adopted by Girtin was well calculated to display the defensive security of the castle on a hill overlooking the river, with the late fourteenth-century great tower to the left, and to the right the distinctive minaret-like form of the remains of the Little Stair Tower, part of the Hall Range.

1797 - 1798

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1800 - 1801

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1796 - 1797

The Bridge at Warkworth, with the Castle Beyond


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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