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Works Thomas Girtin

A Sheet of Figure Studies Relating to Picturesque Views in Paris

1801 - 1802

Primary Image: TG1900: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Sheet of Figure Studies Relating to 'Picturesque Views in Paris', 1801–02, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 16.5 × 23.6 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1912.4.5).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Sheet of Figure Studies Relating to Picturesque Views in Paris
1801 - 1802
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
16.5 × 23.6 cm, 6 ½ × 9 ¼ in

‘Lallimand Design’ top left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘3’ ‘2. 6’ and ‘9’; 'red Blu Brown'; and an illegible note, by Thomas Girtin; ‘25 [?] a per Reduit’ middle right in ink, not in Thomas Girtin’s hand

Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Figure Studies

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
484d as 'Seven sketches of standing or seated peasants'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001, 2002 and 2018


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911); then by a settlement to his sister, Mary Hog Barnard (née Girtin) (1828–99); then by descent to Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); presented to the Museum, 1912

Exhibition History

London, 2002, no.92


Brown, 1982, p.342, no.749

About this Work

This informal sheet of figure studies made in Paris during the winter of 1801–2 includes an architectural sketch that resembles the Porte Saint-Denis (TG1892), a man in a carnivalesque costume (Girtin’s stay coincided with carnival time) and six other figures, two of which reappear in the prints of Picturesque Views in Paris. The seated man touched with colour to the left is thus shown in reverse in The Village of Chaillot, Taken from the Pont de la Concorde (TG1885a), and Girtin tried out the counter-pose on this sheet, immediately to the left in faint pencil, whilst the standing figure with a strange hat, depicted in three related positions, features in The Pont Neuf and the Mint (TG1874a). One of the most striking elements of the Paris views is that Girtin matched the accurate delineation of the city’s monuments with carefully individualised figures, and their variety is in striking contrast to the more conventional staffage of his studio watercolours. Indeed, the prospectus for the prints issued by John Girtin (1773–1821) stresses just this point, stating that ‘PARIS since the Preliminaries of Peace having been the resort of most of the Fashionable World … the Costume … has been particularly attended to’. And as it was ‘so strikingly different to our own, and so extremely Picturesque’, the aquatints, it continued, ‘may be more worthy the Collection of the Connoisseur’ (Girtin, Paris Prospectus, 1802. 1 Given the target audience for the prints, it is likely that at least some of the figures were sketched from life, and Girtin presumably produced a number of other sheets such as this, though the inscription, ‘Lallimand Design’, may suggest otherwise in this particular case. This presumably refers to the French artist Jean-Baptiste Lallemand (1716–1803), and, given that Girtin probably owned a number of prints after his drawings (see source image TG1907), it is possible that some of the figures at least were copied from him, though an extensive search has not yet revealed any obvious examples. 

Earlier in his career, Girtin reused a letter sent to his patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) for an informal Study of a Woman Sewing (TG0917), and he did the same here with what appears to be part of a bill or quotation that he came across during his stay in Paris. The same support, identified by the paper historian Peter Bower as a white wove of French origin, was also employed for another group of figure studies (TG1899) (Smith, 2002b, p.119; Bower, Report). It seems, therefore, that Girtin travelled to Paris either with none of his favoured cartridge papers or with just a very limited supply, and that for informal sketches such as this he was forced to work on any sheet that came to hand. 


Paris: Porte Saint-Denis and the Boulevard Saint-Denis



The Village of Chaillot, Taken from the Pont de la Concorde: Colour Study for Plate Seventeen of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’



The Pont Neuf and the Mint: Colour Study for Plate Eight of ‘Picturesque Views in Paris’


(?) 1802

Lyon Cathedral


1795 - 1796

A Study of a Woman Sewing


1801 - 1802

A Sheet of Figure Studies


by Greg Smith


  1. 1 The prospectus for Picturesque Views in Paris, presumably drafted by John Girtin, is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1802 – Item 4).

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