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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Conwy Castle, Looking West

1793 - 1794

Primary Image: TG0171: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Conwy Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 17.8 × 25.7 cm, 7 × 10 ⅛ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Greg Smith

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Conwy Castle, 1791, graphite on laid paper, 16.8 × 21.1 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.673).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Conwy Castle, Looking West
1793 - 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
17.8 × 25.7 cm, 7 × 10 ⅛ in

‘Girtin’ lower right by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; North Wales

Conwy Castle, Looking West (TG0107)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
47ii as 'Conway Castle'; '1793'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in May 2023


Margaret Ethel Pheysey (d.1957); her posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 4 December 1957, lot 39; 'Stapyleton', £60; Sotheby's, 19 February 1958, lot 14; bought by Spink & Son Ltd, London, £45; Derek Lockett (d.1993); then by descent

About this Work

Girtin’s second and larger watercolour of Conwy Castle looking west, like TG0107, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see source image TG0107), and the artist did not visit the site himself until 1798. Girtin’s earliest patron toured North Wales in 1791 and he inscribed the sketches of the castle with the date, 24 August. The smaller view was made for Moore himself and is typical in terms of size and presentation of the seventy or so watercolours that Girtin produced from his patron’s amateurish sketches during the period October 1792 to February 1793, when he is documented as having worked for the antiquarian for a fee of six shillings a day (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 There is no evidence that this watercolour was ever in the Moore collection, however, and there are a number of differences between it and the smaller version (in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) suggesting that it was produced at a slightly later date for another patron. In particular, Girtin cut the composition at the top so that the castle is brought closer to the viewer and he added a stranded boat and other smaller craft in the foreground, which gives a clearer idea of the fortresses’ picturesque river setting. At the same time the artist employs a more painterly style of execution, and the role of the underdrawing in pencil in fixing the architectural details is therefore much reduced. Both features again suggest a later date, when the artist was looking less to the antiquarian market.

Conwy Castle, Looking West is one of three Welsh scenes, each measuring about 18 × 25.7 cm (7 × 10 ⅛ in), that are all after Moore’s compositions but do not seem to have ever been in his possession. The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle (TG0161) and The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church (TG0159) were also the subject of watercolours by Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and it is possible that all three were made after Moore’s original drawing at one remove, with Dayes as the intermediary (see TG0107 figure 1). A more likely scenario, however, is that Girtin made pencil copies of Moore’s sketches when they were in Dayes’ studio, and that would explain how he was able to continue to use Moore’s compositions after he completed his work for the antiquarian and after he ended his apprenticeship, probably sometime in 1792. In this way Girtin was able to fulfil a commission from an unknown later patron for picturesque views of Welsh sites that he had not yet visited.

1792 - 1793

Conwy Castle, Looking West


1792 - 1793

Conwy Castle, Looking West


1793 - 1794

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle


1793 - 1794

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


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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