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Thomas Girtin, Westminster and Lambeth, a drawing


Height: 293.000 mm
Width: 526.000 mm

Gift of Chambers Hall

PD 1855-2-14-23

Prints and Drawings

    Thomas Girtin, Westminster and Lambeth, a drawing

    London, England, around AD 1800

    This view of London to the north and south of the River Thames is taken from a point to the south-west of Blackfriars Bridge, looking over the roof-tops to Lambeth. In the distance, from right to left, we can see the two tall towers of Westminster Abbey and then the roof of the medieval Westminster Hall. Just in front of them is the gleaming stone of Westminster Bridge. Almost in the centre of the horizon are the four shorter towers of St John's, Smith Square. The sails of windmills which pumped water or ground corn can also be seen clearly to the left. Large areas of green parkland show London before the city spread and grew during the Industrial Revolution.

    This drawing, in watercolour over pen, is one of six surviving drawings for an enormous circular panorama of London painted in oils. It was called Eidometropolis ('view of the mother city' in Greek) and was exhibited to the public in 1802. Girtin's announcement in the press described the panorama as 108 feet long and eighteen feet high. He had no previous experience on the scale of this work and little experience in painting in oil, but his panorama provided a new understanding of light, atmosphere and distance which gave the spectator the illusion of being on the spot. It was later taken to Russia where it disappeared. Girtin (1775-1802) planned a similar one of Paris but instead published a series of engraved views.

    J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

    L. Stainton, British landscape watercolours (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

    H.J. Pragnell, 'The London panoramas of Robert Barker and Thomas Girtin c.1800', London Topographical Society, 109 (1968)

    C. Fox, London: world city 1800-1840 (Villa Hugel, Essen, 1992)

    S. Morris, Thomas Girtin, 1775-1802 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1986)


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