Thomas Girtin
An Ancient Castle. Sketching Society Subject

This room introduces Girtin’s working methods, as well as the basic principles of watercolour painting. The first section focuses on the different interiors in which Girtin painted. These included his own studio, where he would make finished watercolours, sometimes producing more than one version of a composition such as Ruins of the Roman Baths, Hotel de Cluny, Paris (no.81) if two patrons demanded it. He also worked at the homes of some of his patrons and collectors, including Thomas Monro, who employed both Girtin and Turner to make copies such as View of Monte Casino, Italy (no.97) from sketches by other artists in his collection. Away from the demands of patrons, Girtin was also a member of the Sketching Society, an artists’ group which met in each other’s studios to paint imagined landscapes such as An Ancient Castle (no.104), inspired by celebrated works of literature. Also in this section are examples of Girtin’s watercolour painting techniques, and an activity which demonstrates the method of tracing Girtin used to duplicate compositions.

The second section of room 3 looks at Girtin’s work out of doors, not only drawing but also painting the colours of the landscape scenery in front of him, as in the View near Beddgelert (no.88). Girtin was not the first artist to sketch the natural effects he saw on his travels, but his contemporaries particularly associated him with this practice.