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Works Thomas Girtin

A Wooded Landscape

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1771: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), A Wooded Landscape, 1800–01, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 15.2 × 12.3 cm, 6 × 4 ⅞ in. The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (2007.8.88).

Photo courtesy of The Clark Art Institute, Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • A Wooded Landscape
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
15.2 × 12.3 cm, 6 × 4 ⅞ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work
Subject Terms
Trees and Woods; Unidentified Landscape

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Collection Catalogue


Spink-Leger Pictures; bought by Sir Edwin Alfred Grenville Manton (1909–2005), 2000; Manton Family Art Foundation, 2005–07; presented to the Institute, 2007

Exhibition History

Spink-Leger, London, 2000, no.26


Clarke, 2012, no.146, p.267

About this Work

This is one of two upright colour studies of the same small dimensions showing a clump of trees that appear to date from the same time, perhaps around 1800, the other being A Torrent by a Clump of Trees (TG1770). In subjects such as this, in which there are no identifiable topographical features, dating Girtin’s sketches inevitably involves an element of guesswork, and there are times when one longs for the sort of specific inscriptions that were part of the practice of many landscape artists at this time. Such an inscription might have been more forthcoming if the watercolour had actually been sketched on the spot, but this is far from clear in this case. The work was evidently produced at some speed, and there are areas in which the darker tones used for the foliage look to have been added onto washes that have barely dried, a sign that the artist was seeking to fix a transient effect. However, the manner in which the whole sheet has been worked over to a uniform degree, with the spaces between the foliage carefully filled in with a skyscape, is more redolent of the sketch-like commodities that the artist produced in the studio to satisfy the demand from collectors for less formal examples of his output. Signs that a drawing was created in haste to capture a transient effect are easily fabricated in the studio, and I suspect that both this work and A Torrent by a Clump of Trees were created within a more controlled environment than is found out of doors. Such works, I suggest, had a particular appeal to collectors who were amateur artists themselves and who might therefore have appreciated signs of the professional’s struggles. Indeed, the fact that it is not possible to be absolutely sure about the status of a work is presumably the point behind the techniques that Girtin employed in a significant number of small informal landscapes made at this date.

1800 - 1801

A Torrent by a Clump of Trees


by Greg Smith

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