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Works Thomas Girtin after Jean-Baptiste Lallemand

Paris: The Hôtel de Ville and the Church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève

(?) 1802

Primary Image: TG1906: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after Jean-Baptiste Lallemand (1716–1803), Paris: The Hôtel de Ville and the Church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève, (?) 1802, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 26 × 31.5 cm, 10 ¼ × 12 ⅜ in. Private Collection, Norfolk (I-E-29).

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hollow (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: Pierre-Laurent Auvray (1736–c.1788), after Jean-Baptiste Lallemand (1716–1803), etching and engraving, 'Vue de L'Hotel de Ville de Paris' for Voyage Pittoresque de la France, vol.9, 1788, 21.1 × 34.2 cm, 8 ⁵⁄₁₆ × 13 ½ in. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (44528779).

Photo courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after Jean-Baptiste Lallemand (1716-c.1803)
  • Paris: The Hôtel de Ville and the Church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève
(?) 1802
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
26 × 31.5 cm, 10 ¼ × 12 ⅜ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary Foreign
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Paris and Environs; River Scenery

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and April 2022


Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835); possibly his sale, Christie’s, 18 April 1836, lot 172 as 'View of the Hotel de Ville, Paris'; bought by 'White', £3 3s; ... Christie's, 5 February 1897, lot 100; bought by 'Ward', £13 10s; J. Palser & Sons; bought by Sir Hickman Bacon (1855–1945), 10 July 1899; then by descent

Exhibition History

London, 1946, no.87; Arts Council, 1946, no.72


Davies, 1924, p.27, pl.86 as 'A French Town, from the River', p.27; Smith, 2017–18, p.40

About this Work

The Demolition of the Church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève

The attribution to Girtin of this Paris view, showing the old town hall (demolished in 1870) and the church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève seen across the river Seine, was questioned by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), who suggested that it was painted by John Henderson (1764–1843) (Girtin Archive, 14). However, although the quality of the work is not high and the watercolour is a little faded, the attribution is surely secure, particularly now that its original source has been discovered. The fourteenth-century church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève was demolished between 1797 and 1800 (see figure 1) – that is, before Girtin’s visit to Paris – and so it was always assumed that if the watercolour was an autograph work, it must have been painted after an image by another artist. The newly discovered source for Girtin’s watercolour, a print titled Vue de L’Hôtel de Ville de Paris, Prise de l’Hôtel des Ursins, was included in Voyage Pittoresque de la France (vol.3, 1786), and it was presumably acquired by the artist when he was in Paris during the winter of 1801–2 (La Borde and others, 1781–1800). Indeed, it may have been amongst one of the ‘Books of French prints of … Landscapes unbound’ that were left in the artist’s studio at his death (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804; Smith, 2017–18, p.35).1 Other watercolours made after prints from the Voyage Pittoresque include Paris: The Ruins of the Roman Baths, Hôtel de Cluny (TG1896 and TG1897), Lyon Cathedral (TG1907), The Porte Chapelle, Compiègne (TG1909), The Church of Saint Corneille at Compiègne (TG1908) and An Interior View of the Nave of Laon Cathedral (TG1911), which make for a distinctive and coherent group of architectural views. Although none of these were executed from on-the-spot sketches, it still cannot be said for sure whether they were worked on the artist’s return to England or were painted in France. Indeed, the fact that they copy earlier prints actually means that we cannot rule out what would, at one time, have been an unthinkable alternative – namely, that many of Girtin’s French views could even predate his trip. 

As with all of the copies of prints from the Voyage Pittoresque, this view adapts – and indeed considerably improves upon – the original composition. Thus, by cropping the scene to left and right and omitting the foreground showing elegant figures strolling along the Left Bank, Girtin brings the town hall and the church much closer to the viewer. The artist has retained the main detail of the boats on the river, but beyond this he has opened up the space in front of the town hall, adding numerous figures to bring the architectural view alive, with the beneficial result that it appears as though it were a natural continuation of his sketching campaign for his own Picturesque Views in Paris, which likewise concentrated on the river Seine and its banks. This was presumably the attraction for the artist, rather than the fact that the print includes an image of the former church of Saint-Jean-en-Grève. Although the church was the subject of a well-known painting by Hubert Robert (1733–1808), I suspect that Girtin was unaware of its fate and he inadvertently commemorated its passing. 

(?) 1802

Paris: The Ruins of the Roman Baths, Hôtel de Cluny


(?) 1802

Paris: The Ruins of the Roman Baths, Hôtel de Cluny


(?) 1802

Lyon Cathedral


(?) 1802

The Porte Chapelle, Compiègne


(?) 1802

The Church of Saint Corneille at Compiègne


(?) 1802

An Interior View of the Nave of Laon Cathedral


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The financial records of John Girtin covering the income he received from the sale of the contents of his brother's studio, as well as from the  Eidometropolis and the twenty aquatints of the Picturesque Views in Paris, together with a detailed account of the expenses from both projects, are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1).

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