Published  02/09/2002

Thomas Girtin in passing

Thomas Girtin in passing

Few would deny that Thomas Girtin’s ‘The White House at Chelsea’ is a key British landscape painting. Girtin, (b.l775) who died in 1802, was greatly admired by 19th century successors. Turner was his exact contemporary. ‘Had Tom Girtin lived, I should have starved’ was Turner’s view. No student could understand Turner without being aware of Girtin. They had met in their teens. Later, moving a little more upstream from Battersea Bridge, still in Chelsea, artists settled and painted in their footsteps. Whistler most notably, and even Victor Pasmore in the 20th century was to be caught by the same spell. The exhibition, Thomas Girtin: the Art of Watercolour is at Tate Britain through 29 September. Girtin exhibitions remain a rarity and this should not be missed. It could also be said to be well timed with Freud, a breath of Thames fresh air one could say.

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