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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Thomas Hearne

Carlisle Cathedral, from the South West

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0269: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Thomas Hearne (1744–1817), Carlisle Cathedral, from the South West, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 10.8 × 16.5 cm, 4 ¼ × 6 ½ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1175).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Thomas Hearne (1744-1817)
  • Carlisle Cathedral, from the South West
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
10.8 × 16.5 cm, 4 ¼ × 6 ½ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
142 as 'Unidentified Church'; '1795–6'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


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 Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £5 as 'Abbey Dore' (lent to Cambridge, 1920); given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

Cambridge, 1920, no.14 as ’Abbey Dore’; New Haven, 1986a, no.35 as ’Carlisle Cathedral, Cumberland, from the Southwest ... After Thomas Hearne?’

About this Work

William Byrne (1743–1805) and James Sparrow (active 1795–1807), after Thomas Hearne (1744–1817), etching and engraving, 'Carlisle Cathedral' for <i>The Antiquities of Great Britain</i>, vol.2, pl.23, 15 October 1802, 18.4 × 25.2 cm, 7 ¼ × 9 ⅞ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

Susan Morris has suggested that Girtin’s view of Carlisle Cathedral from the south west was probably copied from an engraving of a watercolour by Thomas Hearne (1744–1817) (Morris, 1986, p.39) (see figure 1). The print was not published until 1802, however, and in any case there are numerous small discrepancies between the two images, suggesting that because Girtin certainly never travelled to Carlisle, he must have based his watercolour on another source, albeit a view taken from almost exactly the same position. The amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) visited Carlisle in early October 1792, on the return leg of his trip to Scotland. Although no sketch of the cathedral has been traced, it is most likely that Girtin based his watercolour on a drawing by his first significant patron. The watercolour certainly came from Moore’s collection, where it was wrongly titled ‘Abbey Dore’, and it fits stylistically with the thirty or so other watercolours that Girtin made from sketches his patron made on his trip to and from Scotland, albeit that it is smaller than their standard size (Moore, Inventory, 1852).1 Hearne was generally scrupulously accurate in the depiction of architectural details, and when Girtin did copy his works he followed his model closely, as in Lanercost Priory Church: An Interior View of the Ruins from the South Transept (TG0867). In this case, though, there are a number of discrepancies between Girtin’s drawing and the appearance of the cathedral at this date, and these can be put down to Moore’s failings as a draughtsman and the problems that the professional artist had in interpreting his patron’s frequently clumsy sketches. Errors in the watercolour, such as the extra window in the clerestory of the nave, the different form of the arch in the wall to the right and the way that the string courses on the south transept are missed out, all reflect Moore’s inadequacies as an artist and the fact that Girtin was not working from his own on-the-spot drawing.

(?) 1795

Lanercost Priory Church: An Interior View of the Ruins from the South Transept


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 An inventory of the Moore collection, dating from 1852, is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1852 – Item 1).

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