The sketchbook contains 22 drawings and Girtin used at least five of the drawings as the basis for well-known watercolours.

The sketchbook is therefore an invaluable document in showing how he evolved his finished pictures in the last few years of his life. He did much to bridge the gap between the 18th century stained drawing and the 19th century watercolour. Although the watercolour sketches in the book show that he used colours out of doors, his usual practice was clearly to make pencil sketches on the spot to serve as aides-memoires for watercolours worked up in the studio. These pencil sketches are characterised by a remarkable calligraphic shorthand, learnt from his early study of Canaletto. Inserted at the beginning of the book is a pen and ink sketch of John Raphael Smith (illustration), followed by a drawing of Battersea Reach, used for the well-known watercolour The White House, Chelsea, then by two studies made at Bedgellert in North Wales; and finally by nineteen drawings done in Yorkshire.


Platt Vicarage, Rusholme, Manchester; Mr Shepherd; by descent to F.W.Shepherd; Sotheby's, June 1977.

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