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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Bolsover Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0119: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Bolsover Castle, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 15 × 19.9 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Bolsover Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
15 × 19.9 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Country House View; Derbyshire View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Christie’s, 12 July 1988, lot 153; bought by Spink & Son, London, £6,270

Exhibition History

Spink’s, London, 1989, no.17

About this Work

Samuel Sparrow (active 1770–1806), after an Unknown Artist, engraving, 'Bolsover Castle Derbyshire' for Francis Grose, <i>The Antiquities of England and Wales</i>, vol.8, 17 March 1787, 10.5 × 16 cm, 4 1/8 × 6 1/4 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This distant view by Girtin of Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire was probably produced after an untraced sketch made by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and it is unlikely that Girtin ever visited the site himself. Moore’s drawing is known only from an engraving by Samuel Sparrow (see figure 1) that was used as an illustration to Francis Grose’s (c.1731–91) The Antiquities of England and Wales (Grose, 1785–87). The print does not specifically acknowledge Moore as the source of the image, but he is known to have contributed nine drawings to Grose’s publication and the format, style and size of Girtin’s watercolour suggest that this too was one of the works he produced from Moore’s sketches around 1792–93 (Bell, 1915–17, p.49). The evidence for Moore as the ultimate source for Girtin’s image is not, however, conclusive, and it is conceivable that the watercolour was realised from the print, with the artist copying the building closely but rearranging the trees in the foreground to create a more satisfying composition. Moreover, if the watercolour was commissioned by Moore, it must have left the collection early on as it was not included in a list of Girtin’s works owned by the family in 1852 (Moore, Inventory, 1852).1 We must therefore at least consider the possibility that the watercolour may have been commissioned by someone other than Moore, not least because the distant view actually shows a relatively recent building in which the setting is preeminent and therefore untypical of Moore’s patronage. Built for Sir Charles Cavendish (d.1617), the monumental keep shown to the left was erected between 1612 and 1621, with the terrace range added soon after to overlook the Vale of Scarsdale. The keep may have been designed to resemble a Norman castle and the setting certainly suggested a building sited for its defensive capability, but such a relatively new structure – and one that was built as a domestic showpiece – was not an obvious subject for someone with Moore’s antiquarian interests.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The inventory is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1852 – Item 1).

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