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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

An Unidentified Church close to a Road

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0330: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), An Unidentified Church close to a Road, 1794–95, graphite on laid paper, 16 × 22.3 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in. British Museum, London (1946,1030.2).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • An Unidentified Church close to a Road
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
16 × 22.3 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ¾ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Unidentified Topographical View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Richard Johnson; his sale, Sotheby’s, 13 June 1934, lot 11 as 'A set of six small water-colour Drawings and Another', by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by 'Finberg', £3 10s; Cotswold Gallery, London; Hilda Félicité Finberg (c.1885–1959); presented to the Museum, 1946, as by Edward Dayes

About this Work

This drawing of an unidentified church appears to have come from the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and it is likely, therefore, that it was made in relation to the production of one of the ‘Coloured Drawings on Cards’ that Girtin painted for his early patron. Sixty examples were sold from Monro’s collection in all (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 7 May 1808, lots 60 and 61; Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 80–83), though, if a watercolour of this subject was made, it has not been traced. A large group of similar outlines from Monro’s collection are now part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain, and they too measure roughly the same size as this drawing. Where it has been possible to identify the subjects of the outlines, they invariably turn out to be copies from the work of other artists, and this is probably the case with this drawing too. Many of Girtin’s drawings were copied from the work of his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), but more obscure architectural subjects such as this are more likely to have been taken from sketches by the young artist’s first significant patron, the amateur draughtsman and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). Trips by Moore to Sussex in 1793 and again in 1795 resulted in numerous studies of the county’s parish churches. Though there are few distinctive features from which to identify this building, it may be that it too depicts one of the characteristic structures from an area that Girtin is unlikely to have visited himself. That said, the composition is actually typical of the mature Girtin, in that a humble church is monumentalised by the adoption of a low viewpoint, with a featureless setting dropping away into the distance, leaving the building in isolation. The point, presumably, is that when working for Monro, Girtin was able to select a Moore composition that suited his artistic concerns as well as being of architectural interest.

The attribution of the drawing has changed over the years, beginning as an early work of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) before being changed to Dayes, until Andrew Wilton finally showed that it, and four of the coloured cards acquired by the British Museum in the 1930s (TG0235, TG0361, TG0377 and TG0379), were all by Girtin (Wilton, 1984a, p.23). The drawing was sold in 1934 in a single lot together with the coloured cards, and, in the absence of a complete provenance, that is the best evidence we have that it too originally came from Monro’s collection.

1795 - 1796

The Refectory of Walsingham Priory


1795 - 1796

Legburthwaite Vale


1795 - 1796

A Road by a Pond, with a Church in the Distance


1795 - 1796

A Church Tower amongst Trees, with a Cart in the Foreground


by Greg Smith

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