St. Paul's Cathedral, from St. Martin's-le-Grand

Thomas Girtin British

Not on view

In this vibrant rendering of London, Girtin combines lively detail with passages of loose brushwork. The work stands at the midpoint of the artist’s tragically short career, balanced between his early achievements as a topographical watercolorist and the masterly abstracted landscapes to come. Working outdoors, in the street where he lived, the twenty-year-old established graphite perspective lines, then added gray wash shadows, layers of color, figures, and details. The foreground moves from deep shadow, at left, to red-brick facades glowing in the late afternoon sun. Sir Christopher Wren’s magnificent classical dome embodies the sublimity toward which the artist aspired, while the carts, horses, street-sweeper, dog, lamplighter, and pedestrians represent the native picturesque out of which his genius grew.

St. Paul's Cathedral, from St. Martin's-le-Grand, Thomas Girtin (British, London 1775–1802 London), Watercolor, pen and black ink, over graphite

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