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Works Thomas Girtin

Westminster Abbey and Bridge, from Lambeth

1791 - 1792

Primary Image: TG0074: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Westminster Abbey and Bridge, from Lambeth, 1791–92, graphite and watercolour on paper, 14 × 22.9 cm, 5 ½ × 9 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wyld Fine Art (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Westminster Abbey and Bridge, from Lambeth
1791 - 1792
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
14 × 22.9 cm, 5 ½ × 9 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
London and Environs; The River Thames

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2005


W/S Fine Art Ltd / Andrew Wyld, London, 2005

Exhibition History

Andrew Wyld, 2005, no.22 as a pair with TG0079

About this Work

Although not signed or dated, Westminster Abbey and Bridge, from Lambeth, together with its pair, London Bridge, from the South Bank (TG0079), displays a number of signs that it was made by Girtin very early in his career, presumably during the period of his apprenticeship to Edward Dayes (1763–1804). However, unlike many of the works made in Dayes’ studio, it does not appear to have been painted from a composition or sketch by Girtin’s master. Indeed, similarities in the pencil work with St Mary’s Church, Battersea (TG0016), sketched on the spot on 16 September 1791, suggest that this too may have been at least begun on one of the sketching trips that Dayes appears to have allowed his apprentice to undertake along the river. Certainly, there are no similar London views by Dayes that Girtin could have copied, and the unevenness of the finish suggests a two-stage production process with the artist beginning with a pencil study made from the banks of the Thames (to which limited washes of colour were perhaps added on the spot) and completing the more fully worked foreground in a second session later in the studio. The boat and the figures are fine in their own right, but their lack of integration into the whole suggests the work of an inexperienced artist struggling to reconcile the different demands of the sketch and the finished studio work. Views of London by Girtin were sent by Dayes to auction in both 1791 and 1792, and it is possible that this pair were the ‘Two ditto of London’ sold by the artist’s master at Greenwood’s (Exhibitions: Greenwood, 10 June 1791, lot 38). If this was the case, they may have been produced by the young artist as part of the price of paying off his indentures as it is clear that Girtin’s apprenticeship came to an end well before its statutory seven-year period.

graphite and watercolour on paper, 33.4 × 46.4 cm, 13 ⅛ × 18 ¼ in. Private Collection.

Girtin’s contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) also painted a view of Westminster from the Lambeth shore, albeit larger and more finished (see figure 1). This probably dates from a year or so later, and although it contains more topographical detail, it is clear that the two artists made their sketches from almost exactly the same spot. In what is the earliest instance of the two great contemporaries adopting the same viewpoint, it is nonetheless highly unlikely that they sketched together.

1791 - 1792

London Bridge, from the South Bank



St Mary’s Church, Battersea


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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