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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Bamburgh Castle, from the East

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0116: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Bamburgh Castle, from the East, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 16.9 × 21.8 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¾ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.119.1).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Bamburgh Castle, 19 August 1792, graphite on wove paper, 17.9 × 22.7 cm, 7 × 8 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.699).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Bamburgh Castle, from the East
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
16.9 × 21.8 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¾ in
Mount Dimensions
23.1 × 28 cm, 9 ⅛ × 11 in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Bamborough Castle, Northd.’ on the mount by James Moore

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Durham and Northumberland

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
35 as 'Bamborough Castle, Northumberland'; '1793'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought by Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931), 1912, £15 with the pencil sketch; his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.11 as 'Bamborough Castle, Northumberland'; Newcastle, 1982, no.71


Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, pp.321–22, no.702

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin of Bamburgh Castle, on the Northumberland coast, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), 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 his sketch of the castle looking east from the direction of Bamburgh village is dated 19 August. 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), as here, and it seems likely that he began with the subjects that Moore brought back from his most recent tour (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 the trip to Scotland. Many of them, as in this example, include the patron’s own inscription on the artist’s original washline mount. 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 family until it was broken up after 1912, when this work was acquired by a descendant of the artist.

Bamburgh Castle

In general Girtin made few changes to Moore’s compositions, limiting himself to adding a suitable weather effect and a figure or two, though in this case he did omit the cottage that is shown to the left in the amateur’s on-the-spot sketch. The cottage is also present in a second outline drawing that Moore made of the castle with the addition of some monochrome washes (see figure 1). This has also been suggested as the model for Girtin’s watercolour, but the fact that it replicates the curve of the road seen in Moore’s simpler outline drawing indicates otherwise and the omission of the notations included on the dated drawing probably means that it repeats the on-the-spot sketch (Brown, 1982, pp.331–32).

The watercolour has suffered some fading and discolouration in the past, as can be detected in the contrast between the main part of the work and some areas at the top and left that have been protected by a later window mount. The small watercolours Girtin produced for Moore were not designed to be framed for wall display, and, because they were kept in volumes and portfolios, they have generally survived in very good condition.

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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