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Works (?) Thomas Girtin and Samuel Howitt

Windsor Great Park: Herne’s Oak with a Herd of Deer

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG1371: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Samuel Howitt (1756–1822), Windsor Great Park: Herne's Oak with a Herd of Deer, 1795–96, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper, 28.6 × 42.2 cm, 11 ¼ × 16 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1037).

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

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Samuel Howitt (1756-1822)
  • Windsor Great Park: Herne’s Oak with a Herd of Deer
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on paper
28.6 × 42.2 cm, 11 ¼ × 16 ⅝ in

'Howitt' lower right, by Samuel Howitt

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

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001; Gallery Website


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911) (lent to London, 1862; London, 1877); by a settlement to his sister, Mary Hog Barnard (née Girtin) (1828–99); her sale, Christie's, 31 May 1886, lot 59 as 'Herne’s Oak, with deer' by Samuel Howitt and Thomas Girtin; bought by 'Palser', £25 4s; J. Palser & Sons; ... J. Palser & Sons (stock no.17230); bought by Sabina Girtin, née Cooper (1878–1959), 4 August 1918, £20; given 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, 1862, no.942 as ’Scene in Windsor Forest’ by Samuel Howitt; London, 1877, no.273 as by Samuel Howitt; London, 1962a, no.167 as by Samuel Howitt ’worked on by Girtin’; Reading, 1969, no.55 as by Samuel Howitt ’worked on by Girtin’


YCBA Online as by Samuel Howitt (Accessed 16/09/2022)

About this Work

This view of Windsor Great Park, one of a pair of landscapes with herds of deer (the other being TG1372), although not signed by the two artists, is likely to be another example of the collaboration between Girtin and the animal painter Samuel Howitt (1756–1822), his older contemporary (see TG1373 and TG1374). The attribution to the two artists working together on the same sheet was the source of much debate within the Girtin family, in whose possession the work was for much of its history. Tom Girtin (1913–94) thought that it was by Howitt but ‘worked on by Girtin’ (Girtin Archive, 12), whilst his father, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), did not include the work in his catalogue of the artist’s watercolours with David Loshak (Girtin and Loshak, 1954). The first owner of the work was Girtin’s son, Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74), but it does not seem to have been inherited directly, and he presumably bought it on the art market and his descendant perhaps discounted the attribution on those grounds. At first sight this is indeed quite logical, but then again I am not sure that the style of the landscape is so very different from the two signed Howitt–Girtin collaborations. Though the evidence is hardly overwhelming, I suspect that this may be a case of Girtin, early in his career, adjusting his manner of painting to match that of his less talented partner.

'Herne's Oak, Windsor'

The tree known as Herne’s Oak, in Windsor Great Park, was commonly identified in the eighteenth-century as the site of Falstaff’s final humiliation in William Shakespeare’s (1564–1616) Merry Wives of Windsor. Falstaff’s disguise of stag’s horns suggested to more than one artist that a herd of deer was the perfect accompaniment for a scene featuring the ancient tree and ‘Windsor Forest’. The tree appears to have been felled in 1796, when it was accidentally included in George III’s (1738–1820) order to remove unsightly oaks from the park – that is, before the likely date of Girtin’s possible visit to Windsor. In any case, it is unlikely that Girtin would have worked from an on-the-spot sketch, especially as the picturesque ancient tree was the subject of a number of prints and drawings (see figure 1), any one of which he might have copied and incorporated into a more generalised forest scene for what was no more than hack employment, even for a young artist.

1795 - 1796

Landscape and Deer


1795 - 1796

Stags Fighting amongst a Herd of Deer in Windsor Great Park, with the Castle in the Distance


1795 - 1796

A Herd of Deer in Richmond Park


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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