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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Chepstow Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0134: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Chepstow Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 16.5 × 21.6 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Bridgeman Images, Christie's Images (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Chepstow Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
16.5 × 21.6 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in

'Chepstow Castle' lower centre on the mount, by James Moore; 'Formerly belonged to the Clare's, Earls of Pembrooke; when built unknown' on the back of the mount, by James Moore

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; South Wales

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
17 as '1792'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2014


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, £20; Alexander Joseph Finberg (1866–1939); J. Palser & Sons (stock no.18437); bought by Victor Rienaecker (1887–1972), 6 July 1923; P & D Colnaghi & Co.; Walter C. Hetherington (d.1978); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 14 February 1978, lot 51; bought by P & D Colnaghi & Co., £1,800; Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, 16 May 2014, lot 217, $10,000; Christie's, South Kensington, 2 December 2014, lot 172, £16,250


Davies, 1924, p.7, pl.7; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.54

About this Work

George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824), after James Moore (1762–99), aquatint, 'Chepstow Castle' for <i>Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales</i>,  p.93, 1 January 1792, 8 × 10.9 cm, 3 ⅛ × 4 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This view by Girtin of Chepstow Castle, on the Welsh side of the river Wye, showing the gateway and Marten’s Tower to the left, was produced after an untraced sketch made by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and Girtin certainly never visited the site himself. Girtin’s earliest patron journeyed to South Wales in 1787 and he sketched the ruins on 22 May. This drawing was realised as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) and was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales in 1792 (see figure 1) (Moore, 1792). Sometime later in the year, Moore commissioned a slightly different view from Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and it was he who presumably acted as an intermediary and secured for his apprentice the task of making a set of watercolours after Moore’s rather rudimentary sketches (sold at Sotheby’s, 13 January 1972, lot 48). Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing watercolours, each on paper, measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), and each was originally carefully mounted with the patron’s inscription (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 This typical example is one of seventy or so small watercolours by Girtin that remained in the ownership of Moore’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, when the drawing was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

The view of Chepstow is one of seven that Girtin made from sketches Moore executed in South Wales during two tours. They all show close-up views of the region’s ancient castles and this work therefore differs significantly from the composition that Girtin copied at about the same date from Dayes (TG0170). Moore’s text states that the view was chosen to illustrate the ‘beauty’ of the ‘stately round tower … enriched with herbage, weather tints, and ivy, in a most picturesque manner’ (Moore, 1792, p.94). We can be sure that Girtin worked from Moore’s untraced sketch rather than the print, as Parkyns’ view actually shows a moonlit scene with a gentleman attended by two dogs shooting at crows on the castle walls. Girtin’s daytime view with cattle peacefully watering in the foreground, in contrast, contains no allusion to the castle’s past.

1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye


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).

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