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Thomas Girtin

Thomas Girtin, by John Opie, circa 1800 -NPG 882 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Girtin

by John Opie
circa 1800
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
NPG 882

This portraitback to top

Earland lists six versions of this portrait (collections of T. Girtin, NPG, Barnard, Colnaghi, Parsons and Richardson). The originals are probably the sketch of the head only in a private collection (reproduced in Thomas Girtin and David Loshak, The Art of Thomas Girtin, 1954, p 32) and the finished half-length still in the Girtin collection; this has been frequently exhibited and reproduced, for instance 'John Opie', Arts Council, 1962-3 (67), 'Thomas Girtin', Whitworth Art Gallery and V&A Museum, 1975 (plate 1). According to family tradition it was painted in 1800 (Tom Girtin, 'A Family Collection' in Apollo, April 1962, p 131). Rogers records seeing the NPG version at William Cox's Pall Mall Gallery in 1878 (Rogers, Supplement, p 235). The Barnard version was bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum in 1934. The Colnaghi, Parsons and Richardson versions are unlocated at present. A small rough copy, possibly by another hand, is in the National Gallery of Ireland (878).
The mezzotint of this portrait is one of S. W. Reynolds's most striking prints, lettered as: Portrait of the late extraordinary Artist, Thomas Girtin, dedicated to Sir Geo. Beaumont and published by his brother John Girtin in 1817 (Alfred Whitman, S. W. Reynolds, 1903, 114). It gives full value to Opie's use of chiaroscuro.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length to left in brown coat, yellow waistcoat, white neckcloth, brush in right hand, left holding sketchbook; rich brown hair, dark eyes, ruddy complexion, attentive expression.

Provenanceback to top

William Cox and his sale Christie's 18 February 1884 (618); H. Fawcett, print and bookseller of Covent Garden, and bought from him 1891.

Reproductionsback to top

Mezzotint by S. W. Reynolds 1817 (Alfred Whitman, S. W. Reynolds, 1903, 114); stipple vignette by Scriven for Arnold's Library of the Fine Arts, 1832.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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