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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0170: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour, scratching out and pen and ink on wove paper, 22.8 × 29.7 cm, 9 × 11 ¾ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1921.11).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour, scratching out and pen and ink on wove paper
22.8 × 29.7 cm, 9 × 11 ¾ in

‘2. / Chepstow Castle - T. Girtin / pair’ on the back of the old mount

Object Type
Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; River Scenery; South Wales; The Wye River

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
16 as 'Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire'; '1791–2'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Walker’s Galleries, London, 1921; bought by Arthur Edward Anderson (c.1871–1938); presented to the Museum, 1921

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1921, no.61; New Brunswick, 1982, no.64; Grasmere, 1998, no.72


Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, p.319, no.697

About this Work

Chepstow Castle

This view of Chepstow Castle from the river Wye, looking north east, was made by the young Girtin after a composition by his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), who visited the Wye valley in the summer of 1792. Girtin’s watercolour is very close in many respects to an undated view of Chepstow by Dayes in the collection of Gallery Oldham (see figure 1). This imposing watercolour seems to have been the model for an aquatint, published in 1802, and it is therefore likely to postdate Girtin’s view, which presumably must have derived from an untraced earlier on-the-spot sketch by Dayes. This conclusion is supported by the fact that Girtin includes more of the composition to the left and right, suggesting that he worked from a more extensive view. The work is most notable for the way in which the young artist both manages to adhere to many of the stylistic conventions of his master – the parallel lines of the water, the simplified massing of the foliage, the darkened foreground and so on – whilst adding a more dramatic light effect that illuminates the castle and the distant river. The key to the innovative effect is the creation of a lively sky in which the clouds have parted to allow shafts of light to pick out the castle ruins, which rise above the modern village that shelters in its shadow.

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye is one of eight watercolours sold at Walker’s Galleries in London in 1921 that were said to have been commissioned from the young Girtin and subsequently remained in the same family collection for several generations (Exhibitions: Walker’s Galleries, 1921). The group includes views of Hereford Cathedral (TG0070), Warwick Castle (TG0168), Lindisfarne Priory (TG0210), Warkworth Castle (TG0177) and Vale Crucis Abbey (TG0208), none of which Girtin could have visited, and they all seem to have been made after compositions by Dayes or James Moore (1762–99), Girtin’s first patron. It is likely that the commission as a whole came through Girtin’s continuing association with Dayes, though he clearly did not consign the watercolours to the auction houses, as seems to have been the case with Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057) and others. The income from the works may still have gone to Girtin’s master as part of the price of paying off his indentures, however, and this would explain why Girtin still had access to Dayes’ sketches after he left his studio, whenever that might have been. The watercolours in the group vary in size, but this work and the view of Hereford Cathedral share the same dimensions (22.8 × 29.9 cm, 9 × 11 ¾ in). Given that this drawing is inscribed ‘2. / Chepstow Castle – T. Girtin / pair’ on the back of the original mount, they may have been conceived together.

1792 - 1793

Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1792 - 1793

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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