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

Windsor Castle and the Great Park, from the South West

1797 - 1798

Primary Image: TG1369: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Windsor Castle and the Great Park, from the South West, 1797–98, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 20.5 × 27 cm, 8 ⅛ × 10 ⅝ in. Private Collection, Norfolk (I/E/17).

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hollow (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Windsor Castle and the Great Park, from the South West
1797 - 1798
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
20.5 × 27 cm, 8 ⅛ × 10 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin (the signature has been cut, suggesting that it once extended onto an original mount which has been lost)

Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
The Landscape Park; Windsor and Environs

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
279i as 'Windsor Castle from the Great Park'; '1798'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2013 and April 2022


J. Palser & Sons (stock no.1949); bought by 'Appleby', 10 December 1883, £18; his sale, Christie’s, 25 May 1886, lot 114; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, 11 gns (stock no.8002); bought by Edward Harris, 11 July 1887, £21; his sale, Christie's, 28 November 1910, lot 48; bought by 'Palser', £27 6s; J. Palser & Sons; bought by Sir Hickman Bacon (1855–1945), 10 April 1911, £60; then by descent

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1887, no.275; London, 1927, no catalogue; London, 1946, no.89; Arts Council, 1946, no.74; Boston, 1948, no.139; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.90; Manchester, 1975, no.46; Dulwich, 2001, no.7; Kendal, 2012, no.7


Davies, 1924, pl.67; Mayne, 1949, p.106; Hawcroft, 1962, p.26

About this Work

Girtin’s earliest views of Windsor, Eton and their surrounds were all drawn after works by other artists (as with TG0157), and, initially at least, it makes sense to investigate the possibility that he did likewise in this scene, showing the castle from the south west looking across the Great Park. Another watercolour of a more distant view, but also taken from the south west, Windsor Park and Castle, from Snow Hill (TG0907), thus bears a distinct resemblance to a composition by John Robert Cozens (1752–97) that is best known from a watercolour at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford (see TG1467 figure 1), and Cozens therefore seems the most likely candidate as Girtin’s source. Girtin copied another British scene by the earlier artist, a view of London from Greenwich (TG0862), and a copy of the same Cozens composition, variously attributed to Girtin and to Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), also exists (TG1467). The fact that this watercolour probably postdates Girtin’s work with Turner at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where they realised countless versions of compositions by Cozens, does not invalidate the possibility that it too was based on a prototype by the older artist. However, on balance, I think there are sufficient differences between this view and the more overtly Cozens-like scene of Windsor Park and Castle, from Snow Hill to suggest that it was the outcome of an untraced on-the-spot sketch by Girtin. This is supported by the existence of another Windsor view, an outline drawing of the castle from the Thames (TG0182) that can plausibly be associated with a visit to the town around 1797–98.

John Greig (c.1779–1861 or later), after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), engraving, 'Windsor from the Forest. Berks' for <i>Select Views of London and its Environs</i>, 2 January 1804, 22.4 × 15.7 cm, 8 ⅞ × 6 ⅛ in. British Museum, London (1865,0610.1251).

The latter view, Windsor Castle, from Datchet Lane, suggests that Girtin sought out a new aspect to one of the most commonly depicted subjects in eighteenth-century landscape painting but that he did not find any purchasers. The view of the castle from the south west across the Great Park, in comparison, continued to sell, despite, or perhaps because, of the fact that it was part of the repertoire of so many artists, including, in addition to Cozens, Paul Sandby (c.1730–1809) and Turner himself. Turner’s Windsor from the Forest (see figure 1), which was engraved in 1804 from an early watercolour now in the Harewood Collection, Yorkshire, is close enough to Girtin’s view for the late Eric Shanes to have suggested that it influenced his work, and even that the two artists sketched together (Shanes, 2001, p.26). This is very unlikely, but it is nonetheless a useful reminder that even if Girtin did visit Windsor and sketch the view himself, he did not bring anything particularly new to the subject. Although the verdant scene has been compromised by fading, the castle, as a potent symbol of national identity, still stands proud over the majestic image of the royal parkland, with a herd of deer resting in the sun safe, at present at least, from the hunt. The mature trees of the park, indelibly associated at a time of war with the ships of the Royal Navy, are contrasted with the partly ruined birch trees in the foreground, which nonetheless provide firewood for the woman and child, who rest after their labours. This, we are invited to assume, was at the dispensation of a benevolent monarch who, as in so many views of the Great Park, is the embodiment of the model landowner in the ultimate country estate. The birch trees seem to have been something of an afterthought, however, as the blue of the sky clearly shows through areas where the green of the foliage has faded.

1792 - 1793

Windsor Castle: The Norman Gateway and the Round Tower, with Part of the Queen’s Lodge


1797 - 1798

Windsor Park and Castle, from Snow Hill


1795 - 1796

London, from Greenwich Hill


1795 - 1800

Windsor Castle, Viewed from the South West


1797 - 1798

Windsor Castle, from the River Thames


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.