Although Girtin explored solitary mountains and coasts, he did not turn his back on human haunts. Patrons continued to commission views of their country houses - Girtin painted Harewood House, Yorkshire, from the South-East (no.148) for Edward Lascelles - and he also supplied the market for picturesque rural scenes. Many of these are conventional images of cottages, barns, and mills, displaying little knowledge of country life, though others, such as the Mill in Essex (no.143), are more unusual in their format. They provided an untroubled and consoling image of rural life for predominantly urban viewers.

Girtin spent much of his later career painting towns and cities, including London and Paris. They sometimes feature images of labour and industry, such as the men driving a pile into the bed of the River Wharfe beside Harewood Bridge, Yorkshire (no.137). Rivers feature in many of the urban views, as a source of power and a focus of trade. Girtin believed that water was an essential ingredient for a landscape composition, but it also helped to combine the themes of work, leisure and the domestic into an image of the town as a unified community.