• 8 November 2017
  • 6:00 – 8:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

I will begin by outlining the scope at the outset of a major project to produce an online catalogue covering the drawings, watercolours and prints by, and after, the short lived but highly productive artist, Thomas Girtin. There are, I suggest, three categories of his works which pose a particular challenge to any cataloguer: the many hundreds of watercolours which he made in collaboration with fellow practitioners; the numerous copies or creative variations that Girtin produced after the works of contemporary artists, both professional and amateur, and after earlier landscape and topographical prints; and, finally, watercolours where the ostensible topographical subject has been lost or effaced as a result of Girtin’s ambitions to transcend the status of his chosen medium. Each of the three categories of problem works pose different challenges which I will explore through a series of case studies before concluding that, despite the new research opportunities opened up by online searches and the mass digitisation of works on paper, a Girtin catalogue must, by necessity, admit a healthy degree of uncertainty and a fluidity at its margins.

About the speaker

  • Head and shoulders portrait of Gregory Smith

    Greg Smith is an independent art historian, who has published extensively on the history of British watercolours and watercolourists, as well as landscape artists working in Italy. He has also worked as a curator at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, the Design Museum, London, and the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham, and has organised exhibitions on the work of Thomas Girtin (Tate Britain), Thomas Jones (National Gallery of Wales), and Thomas Fearnley (Barber Institute of Fine Art). As Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Greg Smith published a major online project: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802): An Online Catalogue, Archive and Introduction to the Artist.