Thomas Girtin
Guisborough Priory, Yorkshire 1801

Artwork details

Thomas Girtin 1775–1802
Guisborough Priory, Yorkshire
Date 1801
Medium Watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 629 x 508 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Art Fund (Herbert Powell Bequest) 1967
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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Here, a subject that in previous generations would have been treated simply as a record of a particular place forms the basis for a much more imaginative composition. Girtin creates drama by emphasising the verticality of the architecture, which he shows as a silhouette against the sky. In this way he evokes the feelings of vertiginousness associated with the Sublime.

Girtin was Turner's exact contemporary, but he died at the tragically young age of twenty-seven. His innovative watercolours were admired for their 'daring and vigorous execution'.

August 2004

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