In the 1790s Thomas Girtin and J.M.W.Turner (no.78) were the prime leaders in the revolution of watercolour technique. They evolved a bolder and more expressive use of the medium, especially in response to the more dramatic and evocative scenery they encountered in Yorkshire and North Wales. Individual studies of trees are rare in Girtin's work, since he generally preferred to paint broad stretches of open countryside. This one was made in a park, perhaps in Cassiobury Park in Hertfordshire. Girtin enjoyed a reputation in his own lifetime for making sketches in the open air. However, this study seems more likely to have been coloured in the studio.
Gallery label, August 2004