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Watercolour - Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire
  • Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire
    Girtin, Thomas, born 1775 - died 1802
  • Enlarge image

Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    1798 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Girtin, Thomas, born 1775 - died 1802 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour and graphite pencil, with some bodycolour, on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 88, box L

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) achieved much as an artist during his short life. Like so many painters of the ‘Romantic’ period, he often chose to depict ruined abbeys and castles. Here he draws the architecture of the abbey in an accurate but lively manner. The figure examining the building on the right introduces a human element.

Monks of the Cistercian order founded the monastery of Rievaulx in the 12th century. The Cistercians chose isolated sites close to water to carry out their life of prayer and work. Rievaulx fell into ruin after Henry VIII (ruled 1509-1547) closed down the monasteries.

Physical description

Watercolour of the exterior of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire

Place of Origin

England (painted)


1798 (painted)


Girtin, Thomas, born 1775 - died 1802 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour and graphite pencil, with some bodycolour, on paper


Height: 42 cm, Width: 58.4 cm, Height: 680 mm Gilt frame, Width: 840 cm Gilt frame

Object history note

Probably exhibited at the Royal Academy annual exhibition in 1798, no. 493. A reviewer of the RA’s 1798 exhibition criticised the ‘wildness’ and ‘extreme slovenliness’ of this drawing. Although ‘drawn with considerable spirit and ability’, it lacked ‘that architectural truth which such scenes indispensably require’.

Descriptive line

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), Rievaulx Abbey, Yorkshire', 1798, watercolour


Paper; Watercolour



Subjects depicted

Abbey; Landscape; Ruins


Drawings; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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