Study of a carriage
Thomas Girtin (1775 - 1802)
RA Collection: Art
The work is a detailed study of a carriage seen from the side, drawn by Thomas Girtin. Girtin was primarily a painter of rural architectural settings rather than street scenes, so this study of a carriage, more appropriate to the depiction of an urban setting, is quite unusual.
However, as well as his own compositions, Girtin made copies after the work of some of his contemporaries, which helped to hone his skills. One set of copies was commissioned by John Henderson and was after the London scenes of the artist Thomas Malton, the Younger (1748-1804). Malton's originals include many depictions of carriages, as in The Strand, with Somerset House and St Mary's Church (c. 1781, pencil, watercolour, pen and ink on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, reproduced in Thomas Girtin: The Art of Watercolour, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2002, cat. 10). Girtin copied one work that includes a very flamboyant carriage, Mansion House, London, after Thomas Malton, the Younger (c. 1795, British Museum, reproduced ibid., cat. 101).
Girtin first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1794 and was up for election to the Academy in 1801, but did not receive any votes. His reputation was at its height in 1804 when he died, possibly from asthma. His friend and collaborator, J. M. W. Turner, is supposed to have said, 'Had Tom Girtin lived, I should have starved'.
The drawing was bequeathed to the Royal Academy by the artist Carel Weight RA. According to the index of Weight's collection, Weight bought it from The Little Gallery, Kensington, but it was previously in the collection of Iolo Williams (1890-1962). Williams was the author of such works as Early English Watercolours and Some Cognate Drawings by Artists born not later than 1785 (London: Connoisseur, 1952), which includes information about Girtin and illustrations of his work.
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