Documents, Dated Watercolours and Early Accounts of the Artist
31 July 1811
The soft-ground etching A Windmill by a River by William Pengree Sherlock (1776–c.1851) (see print after TG1451) is published by Thomas Palser (active 1789–1843).
14 September 1811
Mary Ann Girtin (1781–1843), the artist’s widow, marries a wealthy banker, Edward Cohen (1816–87).
4 October 1811
Kenneth Garlick and others, eds., The Diary of Joseph Farington (Farington, Diary, 4 October 1811)
Joseph Farington (1747–1821) discovers ‘Five drawings by Girtin’ in the collection of William Wells (1768–1847) of Redleaf in Kent.
Andrew Wilton with Rosalind Mallord Turner, Painting and Poetry: Turner’s Verse Book and His Work of 1804–12 (Wilton, 1989, p.179)
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) wrote a number of verses on the arts in an often illegible hand in the endpapers of his copy of a mid-eighteenth-century textbook, The Artist’s Assistant. The first part of the poem appears to be a (fragmentary) lament for Girtin. The relevant lines have been transcribed by Rosalind Turner as:
Twould call the memory from his C G [Covent Garden] room
Where lies the honor’d Girtin’s narrow tomb
Not so by this he fits thy powrfull sway
While his frail tenament of mortal clay
and thou who must not sup thy Bohea Tea
or show us living artists where in he lay
Confusingly, the verse appears to continue on the previous page. It has been transcribed as:
here struggling with each other for the palm of worth
but not the plam [palm] of Patronage accursed
The sweet fore finger of a man of taste
sure held it offered but withdraw[n] in haste
hark the dear teacher guards the
and evade the debt like a soapt pig tail
Presumably the ‘palm of worth’ is contested by Girtin and Turner, and the ‘man of taste’ is one of their shared patrons – Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), Edward Lascelles (1764–1814) or perhaps Sir George Beaumont (1753–1827).
John Linnell, Autobiographical Notes, quoted in Katharine Crouan, John Linnell: Truth to Nature (Crouan, 1982b, p.vii)
John Linnell (1792–1882), recalling his early days as an artist, states:
[Turner] was at that time called the Great Turner since the death of Girtin who was reckoned the greatest genius in Water-Colour painting. Turner was looked upon as the inheritor of all that Girtin had discovered, and to which he was adding largely.
1795 - 1800
A Windmill by a River