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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

An Interior View of the Ruined East End of Tynemouth Priory Church

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0083: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), An Interior View of the Ruined East End of Tynemouth Priory Church, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 16.8 × 21.9 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1143).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • An Interior View of the Ruined East End of Tynemouth Priory Church
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
16.8 × 21.9 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
24.5 × 29.5 cm, 9 ⅝ × 11 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Tynemouth Priory / 9’ on the back, by James Moore

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Durham and Northumberland; Monastic Ruins

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
27 as 'Tynemouth Priory, Northumberland'; '1792–3'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90) (lent to London, 1875); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £30; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.53; Cambridge, 1920, no.4; Sheffield, 1953, no.37; Leeds, 1958, no.40; London, 1962a, no.115; New Haven, 1986a, no.12; Richmond, Virginia, 2007, no.39


Gibson, 1916, p.217; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.53; Hargraves, 2007, p.93

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin of the ruined choir of the priory church of Tynemouth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was almost certainly made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and the artist did not visit the site himself until 1796. Girtin’s earliest patron travelled through Northumberland on the way to Scotland in the late summer of 1792, and Girtin based an exterior view of the east end of the church on a sketch that Moore dated 17 August. Moore’s sketch of this view has not been traced, though there can be little doubt that Girtin used a drawing by his patron; however, it is possible that it was made on an earlier visit to the ruins, in October 1785. Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing watercolours on paper generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), each of which was carefully mounted, often with Moore’s own inscriptions (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours after Moore’s sketches, including about thirty compositions derived from drawings made on his trip to Scotland. Moore employed other artists, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), to work up his sketches for reproduction, but it seems that the seventeen-year-old artist, who may still have been an apprentice at this date, was tasked with simply producing the best watercolours he could from the little more than functional records produced by the antiquarian. Moore’s collection of watercolours by Girtin, which eventually numbered over a hundred, remained in the ownership of his descendants until it was broken up after 1912, when this work was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

Girtin’s view of the interior of the ruined choir of the church at Tynemouth differs in a number of respects from the other view of the east end that he also made for Moore (TG0096). Girtin employed the more common landscape format for a view that shows off to good effect the architectural details of the Early English choir, which dates from about 1190. Another difference may also explain why Girtin produced two quite similar views of a part of the church that had already been the subject of an aquatint in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (Moore, 1792). Thus, whilst the upright view of the east end is coloured in a rather yellow tone, this watercolour uses a palette of pinks and greys to reproduce the appearance of the red sandstone used in the construction of the priory. Moore’s pencil outline does not contain any colour notes and Girtin appears to have guessed at the type of stone used in the building’s construction. A second view of the east end therefore gave the artist the chance, presumably with verbal guidance from Moore, to get this crucial detail right. It also allowed the artist to include a tiny detail that at least hints at the spectacular coastal setting of the priory, which is completely ignored in the upright view (TG0096): a ship in full sail is visible to the right.

1792 - 1793

The East End of Tynemouth Priory Church


1792 - 1793

The East End of Tynemouth Priory Church


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The document detailing the payments made to the young Girtin by Moore is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1792–93 – Item 1).

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