Award-winning writer and illustrator Oscar Zárate’s full-color graphic novel reveals the untold story of English Romantic painter J. M. W. Turner’s friend and greatest rival, pioneering watercolor artist Thomas Girtin.
Part historical narrative, part modern fiction, this book consists of two interlinked stories: The first focuses on the 18th-century painter Thomas Girtin and his relationship with his friend and rival J.M.W. Turner. The second tells the tale of three amateur artists in the present day, united by a shared interest in Girtin’s art.
Using this dual narrative to draw parallels between two eras of rapid technological advancement and sociopolitical turbulence, Oscar Zárate’s Thomas Girtin: The Forgotten Painter restores to modern eyes this unjustly forgotten figure, whose work has been almost entirely ignored despite his huge influence in British painting. At the time of death, aged just 27, Girtin had already established himself as a pioneer and a master—his expressionist approach was a significant turning point in the British watercolor tradition. But the brevity of his career, coupled with his chosen medium (compared to oils, watercolors were a humbler and less easily exhibited form) meant that his work came to be overshadowed by that of Turner. As Turner himself famously remarked, “If Tom had lived, I should have starved.