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Works Thomas Girtin

A Mountain Stream with a Watermill and Bridge

1799 - 1800

Primary Image: TG1762: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Mountain Stream with a Watermill and Bridge, 1799–1800, graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper, 30.8 × 24.7 cm, 12 ⅛ × 9 ¾ in. Eton College, Windsor (FDA-D.263-2010).

Photo courtesy of Eton College, Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Mountain Stream with a Watermill and Bridge
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and scratching out on laid paper
30.8 × 24.7 cm, 12 ⅛ × 9 ¾ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, 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
Hills and Mountains; River Scenery; Wind and Water Mills; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
402 as 'Mountain Stream and Bridge (probably Yorkshire)'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


Alan Douglas Pilkington (1890–1973); bequeathed to the College, 1973

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1946, no.82; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.93

About this Work

The form of the bridge in this unidentified view initially suggested that this might be a Lake District scene, perhaps worked up from a sketch by Girtin’s patron Sir George Howland Beaumont, 7th Baronet (1753–1827), as was the case with A Bridge over the River Derwent, Watendlath (TG1584), but I am now more inclined to agree with the opinion of Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, who suggested that it may show a view in Yorkshire (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.189). That said, it is odd that such a distinctive combination of a mountain stream, a bridge and a watermill has not been recognised from amongst the limited number of upland locations that Girtin visited in his short career, and it may be that the scene is a rare example of the artist inventing a composition, or at least radically adapting an on-the-spot sketch so as to make an identification impossible. If this is the case, the resemblance of the motif of the bridge and mill to another Yorkshire view, Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck (TG1696) would not be coincidental. Though such a wholesale rearrangement of topography would be unusual, it would not be entirely without precedent, as the view of Kirk Deighton illustrates (TG1647).

The condition of this watercolour, even by the standards of so many of the artist’s later works, is very poor, having faded and discoloured to a distressing degree. The sky, which presumably mixed a range of grey clouds and blue spaces, has disappeared completely, whilst the vegetation has changed to a dull monochrome so that the forms of the hills are flattened out, and any sense of recession within the composition has been compromised. Some fine passages of fluent pattern-making remain, however, and these, together with what appears to be a genuine signature and some characteristic pencil drawing (made more prominent by the fading), mean that there is no doubt that the work is by Girtin. This is confirmed by the form of the highly compressed composition, which, like A Mountain Stream in Spate (TG1675), another work that has been cautiously identified as showing a Yorkshire view from about 1800, sees a piling-up of hills. The fact that the signature to the left has been partially cut is also characteristic of authentic works by Girtin, since it follows his typical practice of signing works so that the inscription strays onto an original washline mount, which has subsequently been removed.

A Bridge over a Torrent

The bridge resembles that seen in a slight sketch in the collection of The Whitworth, Manchester (see figure 1).  It has not been possible to identify this view either.

1799 - 1800

A Bridge over the River Derwent, Watendlath



Cottages at Hawes, from Gayle Beck



Kirk Deighton, near Wetherby


(?) 1800

A Mountain Stream in Spate, Possibly the River Wharfe


by Greg Smith

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