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Works (?) Thomas Girtin

Ripon Minster, from the South West

(?) 1800

Primary Image: TG1667: (?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), Ripon Minster, from the South West, (?) 1800, watercolour on laid paper, 31.4 × 51.1 cm, 12 ⅜ × 20 ⅛ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

(?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Ripon Minster, from the South West
(?) 1800
Medium and Support
Watercolour on laid paper
31.4 × 51.1 cm, 12 ⅜ × 20 ⅛ in
Object Type
On-the-spot Colour Sketch
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; River Scenery; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
385 as 'Ripon Minster ... Brush Sketch in Water-Colour'; '1800'
Description Source(s)
Girtin and Loshak, 1954


'Parker'; bought from him by Dr John Percy (1817–89), £4; his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 17 April 1890, lot 502; bought by 'Colnaghi', £3 5s; P & D Colnaghi & Co.; Charles Butler; then by descent; Eleanor Rickards (Girtin and Loshak, 1954)


Hardie, 1954, no.36

About this Work

The collector Dr John Percy (1817–89) noted when this sketch was in his possession that it was ‘said to have been given by Girtin to a family by whom it had been long retained’ (Percy Catalogue, p.42/1). Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak consequently included the work in their catalogue of the artist’s work, dating it to 1800 and Girtin’s visit to Yorkshire in that year, and they suggested that it was made on the spot (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.186). The work has not been seen in public for over a century and is known only from a black and white photograph in the Girtin Archive (12/8), so I am consequently loathe to be too critical of the attribution. However, there are a number of features that, even working from an old image, cause concern, not least the work’s size, which though not unprecedented (see TG1319) is certainly unusual for an on-the-spot sketch as it conforms to the standard size of the studio watercolours that the artist produced for sale by Samuel William Reynolds (1773–1835), who acted on behalf of the artist in his final years in a role somewhere between agent and dealer. Perhaps even more troubling is the heavily worked nature of the study. The sky, in particular has been repeatedly washed over, so that it appears to have lost any of the spontaneous character of Girtin’s always rapidly worked studies, and elsewhere there is no sense of the artist’s characteristic laconism, which in comparable on-the-spot colour sketches, such as A Distant View of Whitby (TG1628), epitomises a less-is-more aesthetic.

(?) 1798

The Cain Falls (Pistyll Cain), near Dolgellau


(?) 1800

A Distant View of Whitby


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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