Girtin's only trip abroad was to Paris, from November 1801 to May 1802. Paris had only recently been made accessible to the English traveller again by the signing of the Peace of Amiens and Girtin's work from this trip consists principally of twenty views, based on his on-the-spot sketches, which were subsequently etched by Girtin himself, and published posthumously in 1803 by his brother John Girtin as A Selection of the most Picturesque Views in Paris and its Environs.
Girtin's method of working was to draw the outlines of the view in pencil (British Museum, London, 1868,0328.356), before turning it into a soft-ground etching. He then took one of each etching and added the washes, as he has done here, as instruction to the aquatinter, Frederick Christian Lewis. In the present sheet, and some of the others, he also added a large amount of pencil work, enriching and adjusting the composition.
Sheets from this set are now in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum (plate 2, PD.5-1983), Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (plate 15, B1975.4.1812; plate 12, B1977.14.4706) and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (plate 16).
We are grateful to Greg Smith for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.