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Works Unknown Artist after Thomas Girtin

Rievaulx Abbey

1800 - 1805

Primary Image: TG1057: Unknown Artist after Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), Rievaulx Abbey, 1800–05, graphite and watercolour on laid paper, 31.8 × 47 cm, 12 ½ × 18 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

Unknown Artist after Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Rievaulx Abbey
1800 - 1805
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper
31.8 × 47 cm, 12 ½ × 18 ½ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; Yorkshire View

Rievaulx Abbey (TG1658)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
251i as 'Rievaulx Abbey' by Thomas Girtin; '1798'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74); then by descent to George Wyndham Hog Girtin (1835–1911) (lent to London, 1875); by a settlement to his sister, Mary Hog Barnard (née Girtin) (1828–99) (lent to London, 1877); her sale, Christie's, 31 May 1886, lot 48; bought by 'Agnew', £25 4s; Thos. Agnew & Sons (stock no.8026); bought by Charles E. Lees (1840–94), 16 December 1886, £63 (lent to Glasgow, 1901); then by descent to Eva Prodgers; Christie's, 20 June 1978, lot 110, £200; Sotheby’s, 8 July 1982, lot 81, £935; Christie's, 15 November 1983, lot 169 as 'Attributed to' Thomas Girtin, £486

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.116; London, 1877, no.306; Glasgow, 1901, no.786; Preston Guild Art Exhibition, 1902

About this Work

The attribution to Girtin of this interior view of the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey looking towards the north transept window was questioned when it last appeared at auction in 1983 . Although Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak included it in their catalogue of Girtin’s watercolours, dating it to 1798 (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.168), a subsequent note in the Girtin Archive (32) added by Tom Girtin (1913–94), suggests that ‘The right hand side of this drawing is so feeble that it might well be by another hand’, and I would go a stage further and concur with the doubts expressed in the 1983 auction catalogue. Thus, although I do not have access to anything better than the poor-quality black and white image that accompanied the work at the sale, I suspect that the view is a copy of the watercolour dated 1800 (TG1658), though that too is known only to me from an old photograph. Certainly, the sub-standard quality of the work means that it is inconceivable that it was one of the two views of ‘Rivaux Abbey’ or ‘River’s Abbey, Yorkshire’ shown at the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1798, since it bears no comparison with the great exterior view of the same transept seen in TG1056 (Exhibitions: Royal Academy, London, 1798, nos.493 or 650). All of this means that it is likely there was once another exhibition watercolour of Rievaulx Abbey, which, hopefully, will reappear at some point.

Given that the version of the composition dated to 1800 conforms to the smaller size of watercolour that Girtin supplied to Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer, it is possible that the author of this copy will be identifiable. Reynolds would have had access to the work, and though he did not, in this case, make a mezzotint from the composition, he may have planned to do so. The quality of this copy is in keeping with his standards as a competent, though uninspired, professional.


Rievaulx Abbey


(?) 1798

Rievaulx Abbey


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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