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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

Battle Church, from the South East

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0154: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Battle Church, from the South East, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 17.4 × 22.5 cm, 6 ⅞ × 8 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.18).

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

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Battle Church, from the South East
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
17.4 × 22.5 cm, 6 ⅞ × 8 ⅞ in

'Aug<sup>t</sup>. 7' lower left, by James Moore

Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 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 and presented anonymously, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.470, no.1406 as 'Battle Church' by James Moore

About this Work

This pencil drawing by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), was made on the third and final tour he undertook to record the medieval castles and churches of Sussex. It is contained in an album assembled from fifty-three drawings that were acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from Moore’s descendants after 1912. They were catalogued by David Brown as being by Moore himself, but Brown added a note to one of the drawings, a view of St Clement’s Church, Hastings (TG0304), suggesting that Girtin may also have ‘taken a hand’ in the drawing (Brown, 1982, p.471). I think it is possible to go a step further and propose that, given up to half of the drawings in the album are significantly stronger than Moore’s generally unconvincing sketches (see source image TG0114), the professional artist had a ‘hand’ in many more of his patron’s drawings. In this case, such is the contrast in quality, particularly in the architectural details, that it is clear that the drawing has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist working over Moore’s sketch with a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. The drawing is typical of the way in which Moore’s tentative outlines have been firmed up, his faulty perspective corrected and an exuberant level of decorative detail added. The manner in which the artist varies the pressure applied to the graphite to introduce subtle variations in tone, even within the same line, is characteristic of Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship, and it was surely he who elaborated Moore’s view of the church from the south east, placing it within a credible setting with the gateway of Battle Abbey beyond, in a way that was well beyond the amateur’s capabilities.

The drawing is simply inscribed ‘Augt. 7’, but it was presumably made in 1795, when Moore dated a nearby view of Hastings on the previous day (TG0227). Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak believed that Girtin actually accompanied Moore on his 1795 trip to Sussex and the ‘Cinque Ports region’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28), but that now seems very unlikely, and all of his views of the county were either made after his patron’s sketches or, as here, elaborated from drawings on the amateur’s return to London. The view of the church of St Mary the Virgin may have been used by Girtin as the basis for a watercolour of Battle Church that was recorded as being sold from the Moore collection in 1912 (TG0154a). The church, which is located to the north of Battle Abbey, has a fine thirteenth-century chancel and is unchanged externally from this view.

(?) 1795

St Clement’s Church, with Hastings in the Distance


1792 - 1793

The Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire



The West Tower, All Saints’ Church, Hastings


(?) 1795

Battle Church


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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