For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Bolton Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0142: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Bolton Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 16.9 × 21.7 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ½ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.116).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Bolton Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
16.9 × 21.7 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
23.5 × 28.2 cm, 9 ¼ × 11 ⅛ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Yorkshire View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2016


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, £21 with TG0142a; his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.59 with ’The Same in Outline’, TG0142a


Finberg, 1913, p.132; Bell, 1915–17, pp.72–73; Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, p.320, no.699

About this Work

George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824), after James Moore (1762–99), aquatint, 'Bolton Castle' for <i>Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales</i>, p.11, 1 June 1791, 7.3 × 10.1 cm, 2 ⅞ × 4 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This view of the imposing south front of Bolton Castle in Yorkshire was almost certainly made after an untraced sketch by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and Girtin did not visit the site himself. Girtin’s earliest patron toured Yorkshire in the autumn of 1789 and he sketched the castle ruins on 26 September. The date was noted on an aquatint showing the same view by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) that was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see figure 1). Girtin’s more immediate source was probably a pencil drawing that shows exactly the same view though with different figures (TG0142a). Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak attributed the drawing to Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and they suggested that it was made as a study for a signed and dated watercolour of the same view that is also now in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (see TG0142a figure 1) (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.137). In contrast, I concluded in the catalogue entry for the pencil drawing of Bolton Castle that it is actually a copy by Girtin of Dayes’ watercolour, which, in turn, was made from the lost sketch by Moore. However, the tortuous problems of the drawing’s attribution should not obscure the simple fact that Girtin’s watercolour is ultimately after a composition by Moore and that it is therefore typical of the seventy or so works he produced for his patron after the amateur’s rather mundane sketches. 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. The majority of the drawings remained in the ownership of Moore’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, when the same descendant of the artist who acquired the pencil drawing, Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931), also bought this work.

The text that accompanies the aquatint of Moore’s drawing is very bland and in stark contrast with the emotive tone employed by Dayes to describe his visit to Bolton Castle in his posthumously published A Picturesque Tour in Yorkshire and Derbyshire. The text is worth quoting because although it was produced after Girtin had completed his apprenticeship to Dayes, it is presumably typical of the sort of moral reading that Dayes no doubt tried to pass on to his pupil. The ruined castle, Dayes noted, was ‘never applied to better purposes than the present’ as he ‘consider[ed] such places as dens, from which savages of power sallied forth to prey upon the weak and defenceless’. The ruinous state of the castle, he concluded, was ‘a lesson for towering ambition’ and a ‘mockery of human grandeur’ (Dayes, Works, pp.96–97). Girtin at this date, however, clearly did not have the command of the formal means to begin to express such sentiments.

1792 - 1793

Bolton Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.