Thomas Girtin

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Thomas Girtin
The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Brush and gray wash over graphite.
12 3/4 x 18 5/16 inches (324 x 465 mm); in decorative frame: 22 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches
Thaw Collection.
Inscribed on verso, "Girtin / Drawn in the House of R.K.P. / 1800".
Dr. Thomas Calvert Girtin; his daughter, Mrs. Cooper; her sale, Sherborne, 2 December 1884, lot 43; Mr. Davis of Castleton; B. de le Bullock; his sale, London, Sotheby's, 20 July 1978, lot 171; Christopher Norris; his sale, London, Sotheby's, 19 November 1987, lot 71; Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., London; Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, New York.

The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 160, repr.
Denison, Cara D. et al. The Thaw Collection : Master Drawings and New Acquisitions. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1994, no. 57.


Despite his untimely death at age twenty-seven, Girtin revolutionized British drawing. He embraced a more painterly style of watercolor drawing, deploying bold washes and somber coloring with dramatic compositional effects. The monochrome palette of this drawing was typical of a group of British draftsmen to which Girtin belonged in the 1790s that sought to elevate their work to the status of the epic, forming a sketching society to promote their cause. Their subjects were usually taken from a literary source or from the imagination--as was this drawing, since Girtin never traveled to Italy. -- Exhibition Label, from "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection"

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