For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin

A Study of a Coach

1799 - 1800

Primary Image: TG0179: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Study of a Coach, 1799–1800, graphite on laid paper, 11.3 × 18.5 cm, 4 ½ × 7 ¼ in. Royal Academy of Arts, London (681849).

Photo courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts, London (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Study of a Coach
1799 - 1800
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
11.3 × 18.5 cm, 4 ½ × 7 ¼ in

'Girtin' lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Miscellaneous Studies

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Collection Website


Iolo Aneurin Williams (1890–1962); Little Gallery, Kensington; Carel Victor Morlais Weight (1908–97); bequeathed to the Academy, 1999

About this Work

This pencil study of a coach is signed, which is fortunate because although the quality of the draughtsmanship is high, the subject is an unfamiliar one for Girtin, and there is otherwise little to associate the drawing with him. The outline, which in such a subject could easily be hard and unforgiving, has a pleasing variety of touch. Combined with the assured and subtle shading, this is enough to offset the problematic perspective of the front wheels and thus confirm the attribution to Girtin. Moreover, there is some evidence to link the sheet to the drawings that Girtin made on his trip to Yorkshire in 1799, as the size of the paper matches that of a series of sketches that appear to have been removed from a sketchbook that the artist used at this date for works such as Wetherby: Looking through the Bridge to the Mills (TG1536). This drawing is made on a laid paper, whilst most of the others are on a wove support. However, as the paper historian Peter Bower has argued, it is unlikely that such a book was made commercially, and it may be that the artist himself assembled sheets of paper into a convenient gathering, both in which to work and to show to possible customers (Bower, 2002, p.141). This would certainly explain why amongst the dozen or so sketches of the same dimensions we find a number of different types of paper, just as is the case in the Whitworth Book of Drawings (TG1323, TG1324 and TG1600TG1625), which the artist put together at a slightly later date. Of course this is a matter of speculation, but it is not unreasonable to suggest that the drawing might represent a vehicle that Girtin himself travelled in. Thus, although it is possible that the artist made the sketch with the thought of incorporating it into one of his watercolours, nothing like it has been identified and I suspect that the drawing was made more as a personal record of a journey. Perhaps it was related to one of the artist’s visits to Yorkshire to stay with his patron Edward Lascelles (1764–1814) at Harewood, or, if it dates from a year earlier and the summer of 1798, could it have been the ‘Carriage’ paid for by his travelling companion in North Wales, a Mr ‘Moss’ as Girtin himself related to the diarist Joseph Farington (Farington, Diary, 26 September 1798)?

graphite on wove paper, 23.4 × 34.3 cm, 9 ¼ × 13 ½ in. Tate, Turner Bequest, LI I (D02376).

A similar drawing titled A Two-Horse Phaeton is in the Turner Bequest at Tate (LI I) where it is currently said to be by ‘Girtin, formerly attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner’ (see figure 1). The drawing, unlike this sheet, is unsigned, and given that the quality of the draughtsmanship is inferior, not least in terms of the perspective of the horses and the front carriage wheels, I am unconvinced by its attribution to Girtin.

1799 - 1800

Wetherby: Looking through the Bridge to the Mills


1800 - 1801

Mountain Scenery, Said to Be near Beddgelert


1800 - 1801

The Valley of the Glaslyn, near Beddgelert


1798 - 1799

John Raphael Smith: ‘Waiting for the Mail Coach’


(?) 1800

The Ruins of Old Mulgrave Castle


by Greg Smith

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.