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Works Thomas Girtin


1792 - 1793

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by T Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Woolwich' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.1, no.16, pl.31, 1 May 1793, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.102, 1854. British Museum, London (1862,0712.847).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Woolwich
1792 - 1793
Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print
Subject Terms
London and Environs

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
The original known only from the print


Miller, 1854, pp.102–6

About this Work

An untraced watercolour of Woolwich was engraved and published as ‘from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin’ by John Walker (active 1776–1802) on 1 May 1793. Walker engraved more than twenty drawings by Girtin for his monthly publication, The Copper-Plate Magazine (Walker, 1792–1802), the first appearing as early as 1 May 1792 (TG0065), and he bought other drawings by the young artist at this date as well (such as TG0058). It is possible, therefore, that the missing watercolour of Woolwich was made whilst Girtin was still an apprentice to Edward Dayes (1763–1804), or soon after, and that it demonstrates the importance of the print trade for young topographical artists seeking to establish an independent career. A watercolour of Woolwich was acquired by the dealer Bernard Squire (unknown dates) in 1935 from an album of Girtin’s drawings owned by John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929). Squire thought that it was an early work by Girtin; though Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) disagreed, it is possible that it was the drawing reproduced by Walker (Girtin Archive, 26).

There has been some debate about the specific view shown by Girtin, with Thomas Miller suggesting that it shows Charlton rather than Woolwich (Miller, 1854, pp.104–5). Writing in 1854, Miller argued that such was the pace of urbanisation in the years after Girtin’s ‘Arcadian’ view of a village only nine miles from London that nothing remained from which to identify the scene shown in the engraving. However, the text appended to Walker’s print specifically identifies the building as the brick-built St Mary Magdalene (built 1727–39), one of the churches constructed with money from the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711. If this is the case, the long, low building to the right was no doubt related to the dockyard that was the prime cause of the village’s expansion, so that Girtin’s view not only recorded a landscape soon to be lost but also hinted at the progress of London’s growth.

(?) 1792

Windsor Castle, from the River Thames


1791 - 1792

Tintern Abbey, from the River Wye


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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