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Studio: international art — 27.1903

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Thomas Girtin



HE CENTENARY OF THOMAS House must see at a glance that Turner's famous
GIRTIN: HIS GENIUS AND picture, the Dolbadern, is full of Girtin, being
WORK BY WALTER SHAW Girtinesque in spaciousness of design and in the

serene spirit of its workmanship. Nor is this fine
painting the only one in which Turner lives as the

The subject of this paper was born in February, follower of a young man only two months his
1775, about two months before the date now senior. Euskin had no doubt that Turner, in his
commonly accepted for the birth of Turner, and first years of life, owed more to Girtin's teaching
these two painters of genius thus united by their and companionship than to his own genius; and
natal year were destined also to be inseparably a good many competent judges now believe, surely
linked together in the history of art, as the real with perfect justice, that Turner in his life-work
founders of the beautiful and various school of was usually at his best when he kept most
English water-colour painting. It was they who rigorously in touch with the concentration of
freed that school from its subserviency to the Girtin's strength and the calm dignity of Girtin's
engraver's craft, and enabled it to work side by mastery of composition.

side, almost on equal terms, with the landscape Turner's danger was a tendency to set undue
painters in oil colours. store by complexity of design, by too much elabora-

When Girtin and Turner were young men tion of effect in details. Like a professional detective,
struggling for a name by which to live, the leader- he did not care to discover what he needed for his
ship was not in Turner's hands; it was taken and success in a simple and direct manner. Mysteries
held firmly by Girtin ; and

there can be no doubt____

that he, throughout his || V "*stC' Ssw! SHE '

short life of twenty-seven
years, was the stronger
workman of the two, the
more enterprising and
self-reliant. Had Turner
died with him, in Novem-
ber, 1802, Girtin's name B^^SV
to day would stand higher
than Turner's. But
Turner outlived his com-
rade by nearly half a cen-
tury, and the work done
by him after Girtin's death
is. not only that by which
his fame is now measured
and preserved; it is also
that in which his genius
has been made to tyran-
nise in criticism over the
truly noble results of Gir- H
tin's initiation as a pioneer.
But, happily, the injus-
tice that criticism can be
made to do is not lasting;
it cannot long endure in

defiance of the self-evident \
facts that not only tell
against it, but prove it to

be injustice and any criti- ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^m

cal visitor to the Diploma thomas girtin (born feb. 18, engraved by s. w. Reynolds after

Gallery at Burlington 1775—died nov. 9, 1802) the portrait by john opie, r.a.

XXVII. No. 116.—November, 1902. 81.
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