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

Castle Stuart

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0125: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Castle Stuart, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on paper, 14.5 × 10 cm, 5 ¾ × 4 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby's (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Castle Stuart, 10 September 1792, graphite on wove paper, 18.1 × 22.7 cm, 7 ⅛ × 8 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.755).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Castle Stuart
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper
14.5 × 10 cm, 5 ¾ × 4 in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Scottish View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
32 as 'Castle Stewart, Elgin'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


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 an unknown purchaser, 1912, £10 10s; Leggatt Brothers, London, 1916 as 'Scottish Castle'; ... A. M. Mason; his sale, Sotheby’s, 22 November 1979, lot 168, £1,000

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin depicting the ruins of Castle Stuart on the banks of the Moray Firth, north east of Inverness, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin himself never visited the site. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of Scotland in the late summer of 1792 and this sketch of the castle from the south west is dated 18 September. 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) and with their own mounts, though the mount has been removed from this example (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In this case Girtin cropped Moore’s composition left and right to create a vertical composition that is consequently smaller than the sketch or the standard size of his watercolours. 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. Moore employed other artists to work up his sketches for reproduction, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), 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 descendants until it was broken up after 1912.

Castle Stuart is a tower house built on land granted by Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1561 to James Stewart, though it was not completed until 1625. At the time of Moore’s visit, the castle was derelict following the decline in the family’s fortunes, but after three hundred years as a ruin it has recently been restored. A different sketch of Castle Stuart by Moore was realised by Dayes as a watercolour and is dated 1792 (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.36)). The drawing was engraved by John Walker (active 1776–1802) for his Copper-Plate Magazine and published in 1800, where the castle is described as ‘now greatly out of repair’ (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.4).

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).

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.