This painting is Girtin’s most famous piece, showing the view out over Chelsea and Battersea, with the Red House Mill and the Thames as prominent features of the landscape. The White House itself is in sharper relief against the blues and greys of the painting, an effect Girtin achieved by barely applying any paint to that area of the paper, giving it a brightness deserving of the reflection it casts on the river.
The White House at Chelsea
Date of work
Watercolour on paper 29.8 x 51.4 cm
Thomas Girtin (1775 – 1802) was an English painter and etcher, and an important figure in the establishment of watercolour painting as a respected medium in art. Born in Southwark, he formed a lasting friendship and rivalry with fellow watercolour artist J.M.W. Turner. His bold, experimental style had a lasting influence on British art, with the use of strong colours, pens, ink and varnish. Turner himself felt that Girtin was the stronger artist of the two, with Girtin’s death at the age of 27 causing him to reflect that ‘Had Tom Girtin lived I should have starved.’