Press Release

Thomas Girtin and the Art of Watercolour

Thomas Girtin and the Art of Watercolour: Press related to past exhibition.

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) was one of Britain’s greatest landscape painters. In a tragically short career, he produced a string of powerful watercolours, which helped establish a British School of watercolour painting and provided one of the cornerstones of Romantic landscape imagery. His contemporary JMW Turner wrote of Girtin: ‘If Tom had lived I should have starved’.

This exhibition, scheduled to coincide with the bicentenary year of Girtin’s death, will be the first comprehensive overview of his career for twenty-five years, bringing together the most outstanding examples of his art. It will also offer a revaluation of the artist’s achievements in light of exciting recent developments in the study of landscape painting and watercolour practice.

The exhibition will broaden the traditional emphasis in watercolour shows to encompass a wide-ranging analysis of the artist’s working methods and the materials he employed, the way in which his works were exhibited, sold and received, as well as the artist’s relations with patrons, the print trade, and fellow professional artists. These aspects and the artist’s work will be examined in a series of themed sections. The work of a number of key contemporaries and followers, including Turner, will be included in order to establish Girtin’s position within the broader picture of watercolour practice during a key period in the development of the medium.

The show will include around two hundred works, including some one hundred and sixty by Girtin. These will come from public and private collections in the UK with an important group coming from America.

The exhibition is co-curated by Greg Smith and Anne Lyles. Greg Smith is a leading expert in the field of the history of watercolours, and author of The Business of Watercolour: A Guide to the Archives of the Royal Watercolour Society (1997) and The Emergence of the Professional Watercolourist: Contentions and Alliances in the Artistic Domain (forthcoming, 2001). Anne Lyles, is a Collections Curator at Tate. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Greg Smith, with specialist contributions by Peter Bower, Anne Lyles and Susan Morris.

Open daily 10.00-17.40
Last admission 17.00