Thomas Girtin

The White House at Chelsea


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Thomas Girtin 1775–1802
Watercolour on paper
Support: 298 × 514 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs Ada Montefiore 1933

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This, Girtin's most celebrated work, was much admired by Turner. According to an anecdote, 'A dealer went one day to Turner, and after looking round at all his drawings in the room, had the audacity to say, I have a drawing out there in my hackney coach, finer than any of yours. Turner bit his lip, looked first angry, then meditative. At length he broke silence: Then I tell you what it is. You have got Tom Girtin's White House at Chelsea'. The focus of the watercolour, the white house itself, is created by leaving the paper more or less unpainted. The windmill at the left was known as Red House Mill. Beyond it is the horizontal windmill at Battersea and towards the right Chelsea Parish Church.

Gallery label, September 2004

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