Girtin, Thomas

, an ingenious young landscapepainter, was born Feb. 18, 1773, and received his first instructions from Mr. Fisher, a drawing-master in Aldt rsgatestreet, and was, for a short time, the pupil of Mr. Daves. He early made nature his model; but the first master that struck his attention forcibly was Canaletti, and, in the latter part of his life, he sedulously studied the colouring of Rubens. He was the first who introduced the custom of drawing upon cartridge-paper; by which means he avoided that spotty, glittering glare so common in drawings made on white paper; and some of his later productions have as forcible and spirited an effect as an oil-picture, and are more clear. In his first manner he made the outline with a pen, but afterwards did away that hard outline, which gives so edgy an effect to drawings that are not, in other respects, destitute of merit; and, having first given his general forms with Indian ink, finished his work by putting on his different tints. This, if judiciously managed, is certainly a great improvement in the art. It has been said, that he made great use of the rule, and produced some of his most forcible effects by trick, but this was not the case. His eye was peculiarly accurate; and by that he formed his judgment of proportions. Whoever inspected his pallet would find it covered with a greater variety of tints than almost any of his contemporaries employed. Mr. Moore was his first patron, and with him he went a tour into Scotland. The prospects he saw in that country gave that wildness of imagery to the scenery of his drawings by which they are so pre-eminently distinguished. He also went with Mr. Moore to Peterborough, Lichfield, and Lincoln; and, indeed, to many other places remarkable for their rich scenery, either in nature or architecture. That gentleman had a drawing that Girtin made of Exeter cathedral, which was principally coloured on the spot where it was drawn; for he was so uncommonly indefatigable, that, when he had made a sketch of any place, he never wished to quit it until he h^d given it all the proper tints. He was early noticed by lord Harewood, Mr. Lascellos^ and Dr. Monro; in whose collections are some of | those fine specimens of the arts by the study of which he formed his taste. The doctor has in his possession some of his earliest, and many of his finest, drawings. He painted two pictures in oil; the first was a view in Wales, which was exhibited, and much noticed, in 1801; and the second, the panorama view of London, which was exhibited in Spring-gardens. About twelve months before his death he went to France, where he staid till May. His la:>t, and indeed his best, drawings were the views of Paris, which were purchased by lord Essex, and from which aqun-tinta prints by other artists have since been made. This promising young artist died Nov. 9, 1802, of an astnmatic disorder, which Mr. Edwards seems to attribute to irregularity. 1


Gent. Mag, LXXII. and LXXIII. Pilkington. Edwards’2 Supplment to Walpole.