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Works (?) James Moore and (?) Thomas Girtin

An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex

1793 - 1794

Primary Image: TG0080: (?) James Moore (1762–99) and (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex, 1793–94, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 13.8 × 21.5 cm, 5 ⅜ × 8 ½ in. Newport Museum and Art Gallery (2003.201).

Photo courtesy of Newport Museum and Art Gallery (All Rights Reserved)

(?) James Moore (1762-1799) and (?) Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex
1793 - 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
13.8 × 21.5 cm, 5 ⅜ × 8 ½ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Picturesque Vernacular; Sussex View

An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex (TG0248)
An Ancient House (TG0294)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


Presented by Mrs E. W. T. L. I. Brewer-Williams, 2003

About this Work

This view of a picturesque half-timbered structure has hitherto been attributed to Edward Dayes (1763–1804) and, like the other two versions of the composition by Girtin himself (TG0248 and TG0294), it is based on an untraced sketch by the artist’s first patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). The attribution to Dayes is highly suspect, however, as in contrast to the fine pencil work displayed here, the watercolour washes are applied in a very loose, even slapdash manner. Additionally, although Dayes was quite capable of turning in substandard works for the lower end of the market, the colouring is too feeble to be attached to his name. What can be seen of the pencil work, however, is bold, inventive and entirely characteristic of the young Girtin at his best. Could it be that in just this one instance Moore himself coloured up one of the sketches that Girtin made for his patron? One other option is worth considering, however. It is possible that the sketch that Moore made of the vernacular building is not lost or untraced, just hidden. There are twenty or so examples in an album in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where Girtin has corrected and enhanced Moore’s on-the-spot sketches, as with St Mary the Virgin, Eastbourne (TG0282). One explanation for why Moore’s sketch for this composition has not survived may be that underneath the washes of colour is actually one of Girtin elaborations of a Moore drawing.

Another sketch by Moore shows the same vernacular building (TG0190a), but unfortunately it too is not inscribed with the location and consequently it has not been possible to establish its identity. Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak suggested that the building was ‘perhaps in Shropshire’, but it is possible that Moore came across it during one of his trips to Sussex, as that was where he made the majority of the other sketches contained in the album of drawings from which this image comes (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.143). The building indeed shares some of the features of Wealden hall houses, though no precise model has been found.

graphite and watercolour on paper, 14 × 21 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ¼ in. Private Collection (Bishop & Miller, Stowmarket, 30 March 2023, lot 306).

An additional complicating factor has emerged in the form of yet another version of the composition (see figure 1) offered for sale in 2023 (Bishop & Miller, 30 March 2023, lot 306). The work was ‘Attributed to Thomas Girtin’, but working from an admittedly poor-quality image I think an attribution to Edward Dayes might be more appropriate, not least as Girtin’s master generally had access to Moore’s sketches and there are numerous cases of both artists producing versions of the amateur’s pencil drawings (see, for example, TG0092, TG0098 and TG0107).

1793 - 1794

An Ancient House, Possibly in Sussex


1795 - 1796

An Ancient House


(?) 1795

St Mary the Virgin, Eastbourne


(?) 1795

A Tudor House


1792 - 1793

The West Front of Exeter Cathedral, and St Mary Major


1792 - 1793

Ludlow Castle: The Gatehouse


1792 - 1793

Conwy Castle, Looking West


by Greg Smith

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