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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Landscape with a Distant Ridge, Possibly Hampstead Heath

1800 - 1801

Primary Image: TG1743: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Landscape with a Distant Ridge, Possibly Hampstead Heath, 1800–01, watercolour on paper, 12.1 × 40 cm, 4 ¾ × 15 ¾ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1977.14.5669).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Landscape with a Distant Ridge, Possibly Hampstead Heath
1800 - 1801
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
12.1 × 40 cm, 4 ¾ × 15 ¾ in

'23' on the back, lower left

Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
London and Environs; Panoramic Format

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
417 as 'Panoramic View (probably Hampstead Heath) ... Out-of-door sketch'
Description Source(s)
Gallery Website


P & D Colnaghi & Co., 1953; Iolo Aneurin Williams (1890–1962); P & D Colnaghi & Co., 1964; bought from them by Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1977

Exhibition History

Reading, 1959, no.60; London, 1964, no.23 as ’Landscape with a Distant Ridge’; New Haven, 1965, no.23


YCBA Online as 'Landscape with a Distant Ridge ... Attributed to Augustine Maria Aglio' (Accessed 19/09/2022)

About this Work

This panoramic view of a distant ridge was attributed to Girtin by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, who in their catalogue of his watercolours suggested that it was an ‘Out-of-door sketch’ and that it ‘probably’ showed Hampstead Heath in north London (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.191). More recently, the work has been reattributed by its owner, the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, to Agostino Aglio (1777–1857), an obscure painter from Cremona in Italy who worked in Britain after arriving in 1803, and the ‘Hampstead Heath’ in the title has been dropped. Whilst I think it is unlikely that the work is by Girtin, as only the extended format of the composition suggests that he had anything to do with it, I have no idea why the name of Aglio has been attached to the drawing.

A Landscape with a Church above a Pond, Said to Be Highgate, London

Another view showing what may be a north London scene, which has been called View at Highgate in the past, is in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland (see figure 1) (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.209). The gallery’s catalogue of British drawings describes it as ‘Circle of Thomas Girtin’ (Baker, 2011, p.133), whilst a note in the Girtin Archive (14), presumably made by Tom Girtin (1913–94), suggests the name of William Pearson (1772–1849). The work is in poor condition, faded and discoloured, but it still seems well below the standard of the work of Pearson, who, though he may have been a follower in the sense that his watercolours were based for a period on Girtin’s style, was a more-than-competent professional artist in his own right (see TG1364 figure 1). What appears to be a signature has been scratched out in the bottom left corner of the drawing, no doubt to make it more saleable as a Girtin. The only possible thing in favour of the watercolour’s attribution to Girtin comes in the form of its ownership by a member of the family, Edward Cohen (1816–87).1 However, Cohen – the son of Girtin’s widow, Mary Ann Borrett (1781–1843), from her second marriage – must have acquired the work on the art market, and there is no evidence that it was inherited through the family.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 Cohen lent the work to the 1875 centenary exhibition organised by the Burlington Fine Arts Club as 'View at Highgate' (London, 1875, no.60).

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