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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Cilgerran Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0090: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Cilgerran Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount, 10.5 × 15 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in. National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (NMW A 3158).

Photo courtesy of National Museum Wales (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Cilgerran Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount
10.5 × 15 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in
Mount Dimensions
16 × 20.6 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ⅛ in

‘Jas Moore Delt’ lower left on the original mount, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Girtin Fecit’ lower right on the original mount, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Kilgarron Cas. Pembroke’ lower centre on the back of the original mount, by James Moore; 'Supposed to have been built by Gilbert Strongbow or Roger de Montgomery in the reign of Willm the Conqueror' on the back of the original mount, by James Moore

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

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
9 as 'Cilgerran Castle, Pembrokeshire'; '1791'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and June 2018


James Moore (1762–99); given to 'Holland' on 22 March 1797; ... Dr John Percy (1817–89); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 17 April 1890, lot 512; bought by 'Riggall', £5; Dr Edward Riggall (1817–1900); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 4 July 1901, lot 79 (3 in the lot); bought by 'Orback', £7 15s; Herbert Horne (1864–1916); bought from him by Sir Edward Marsh (1872–1953), May 1904 (lent to London, 1916); bequeathed through the National Art-Collections Fund (The Art Fund), 1953

Exhibition History

London, 1916, no.101; Gifu, 1998, no.38


Binyon, 1900, p.16; Davies, 1924, p.13; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.23–24, p.51

About this Work

George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824), after James Moore (1762–99), aquatint, 'Kilgarran Castle' for <i>Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales</i>,  p.7, 1 June 1791, 7.3 × 10.1 cm, 2 ⅞ × 4 in. Yale Center for British Art Library, Paul Mellon Collection.

This view by Girtin of the thirteenth-century castle that overlooks the Teifi Gorge in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, 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 toured South Wales in 1788 and he sketched the ruins of Cilgerran on 21 August. The drawing was realised as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) and was published as part of Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see figure 1) (Moore, 1792). 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 all measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), with each carefully mounted, often with the patron’s inscription (Moore, Payments, 1792–93). 1 This typical example is one of seventy or so small watercolours that Girtin produced from Moore’s mundane sketches at this date. The majority of the drawings remained in the ownership of Moore’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, but, according to a note amongst Moore’s correspondence held in the Print Room of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, this work was given by Moore to a ‘Mr Holland’ on 22 March 1797.

The view of Cilgerran 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, typically of the set, this drawing depicts Cilgerran’s two surviving towers from the outer ward rather than its spectacular situation overlooking the gorge below. It seems that Moore’s limitations as an artist, combined with his antiquarian interest in the unusual structure of the fortifications, meant that he concentrated on a view of the ‘magnificent ruin … of considerable elegance and strength’, which the text claims ‘even now strikes the beholder with awe, and conveys to his mind a noble idea of its former consequence’ (Moore, 1792, pp.7–8).

The drawing is of particular interest for our understanding of the relationship between Moore and Girtin as it is one of only two examples where the work is signed twice: ‘Jas Moore Delt’ and ‘Girtin Fecit’ (‘Moore drew it’ and ‘Girtin made it’) (the other being Manorbier Castle, TG0103). This has led to some suggestions that both men worked on the same sheet, with Moore producing the drawing and Girtin adding the colour. But there is no evidence of any such division of labour, and, given that both signatures are by the same hand, it would be more accurate to interpret them to mean that Moore designed the composition and Girtin made or executed it. The unusual double signature suggested to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak that this was one of the earliest of Girtin’s commissions for Moore (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.23). They proposed a date of 1791 for it, and this is supported by the fact that Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), sent another view of ‘Cilgarron’ by Girtin to auction as early as January 1792 (Exhibitions: Greenwood, 25 January 1792, lot 74). However, there is no evidence that Girtin worked for Moore until later that year and stylistically this work seems to date from 1792–93, when the artist’s connection with his patron was documented. Moreover, given that the double form of the signature also occurs on Manorbier Castle, another work given by Moore to Holland, it would seem that both names were added by Moore himself when the drawing left his collection.

1792 - 1793

Manorbier Castle


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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