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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Corfe Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0115: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Corfe Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 16.5 × 21.6 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Greg Smith

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Corfe Castle, 1791, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 16.8 × 21.3 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ⅜ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.635).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Corfe Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
16.5 × 21.6 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in May 2023


James Moore (1762–99); given to ‘Mr Scott', 1797; ... Matthew H. Horsley; his sale, Christie's, 5 July 1946, lot 74; bought by Spink & Son Ltd, London, £50 8s; ... Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1960; Derek Lockett (d.1993); then by descent

Exhibition History

Spink’s, London, 1947, no.65

About this Work

This view by Girtin of the Norman great tower of the ruined castle at Corfe in Dorset was made from a drawing (see source image above) by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and Girtin did not visit the site himself. Girtin’s earliest significant patron travelled to Corfe in 1791 and he made eight sketches of the ruins on two dates, 6 July and 30 July, including five studies of the great tower (see figure 1 and figure 2). Girtin’s reworking of Moore’s sketch shows the tower from the outer bailey looking north. The dimensions of the drawing tally with the seventy or so other drawings that Girtin produced after sketches by Moore, which are generally on paper measuring approximately 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), and so it probably dates from the period between October 1792 and February 1793, when Girtin is documented as having worked for him for a fee of six shillings a day (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 The work did not descend down the family line, as in the case of the majority of the drawings Moore commissioned from Girtin, but the provenance is reasonably secure as a note by the patron records that he gave a watercolour of ‘Corfe‘ to a ‘Mr Scott‘ in 1797.2 Corfe Castle was just the sort of subject to attract the interest of the antiquarian and he included an aquatint (see figure 3) of the great tower in his Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (Moore, 1792). As was so often the case with Moore’s sketches, the close-up view records the architectural details that interested the antiquarian and it does not exploit the picturesque possibilities of the ruins’ spectacular setting.

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak record another untraced view of Corfe Castle, which again has not been photographed (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.207). The work is recorded as being larger than the standard size of the watercolours made for Moore (‘8 × 12 ½ in’ (20.3 × 31.8 cm)) and it did not come from the family collection, having first been recorded in the possession of the artist’s son, Thomas Calvert Girtin (1801–74). The watercolour was seen by Thomas Girtin when it was sold in 1914 by J. Palser & Sons after apparently being bought from the collection of Ida Johanna Hog Rogge (née Girtin, 1834–1925) (Documents: 1914), but at this distance in time it is not possible to support his attribution of the work to Girtin other than to note that because Thomas Calvert Girtin acquired most of his father’s works on the open market, his ownership of a watercolour is no guarantee of its authenticity.

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).
  2. 2 Moore's papers are housed in the Print Room of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

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