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John was an English watercolour artist and frame-maker. Born in Norwich, where he lived for most of his life, he was a leading member of the Norwich School of painters. He produced frames for paintings by several members of that school, including John Crome and John Sell Cotman. He also worked as a drawing-master, a printseller and a looking glass maker. At the Norwich School’s first exhibition in 1805, Thirtle exhibited five paintings as one of the five featured artists.

Most of his watercolours are of Norwich and the surrounding Norfolk countryside. His style, influenced by Thomas Girtin, Crome and Cotman, was technically accomplished. His earlier landscapes were painted with a restricted range of buffs, blues and grey-browns, but he later developed a brilliancy of colour, producing works that included angular block forms. His Manuscript Treatise on Watercolour, unpublished before 1977, was probably for his own use, and he exhibited fewer than 100 paintings.

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