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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Darnaway Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0137: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Darnaway Castle, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 16.5 × 21.5 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in. Leeds Art Gallery (1.13/39).

Photo courtesy of Leeds City Art Gallery (All Rights Reserved)

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin', etching and engraving, 'Tarnaway Castle, Morayshire' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.5, no.107, pl.213, 1 December 1800, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. Reprinted in Thomas Miller, Turner and Girtin's Picturesque Views, p.152, 1854. British Museum, London (1862,0712.992).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Darnaway Castle, 17 September 1792, graphite on wove paper, 18.1 × 22.7 cm, 7 ⅛ × 8 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.749).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Darnaway Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
16.5 × 21.5 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin (the signature has been cut, suggesting that it once extended onto an original mount which has been lost); 'Tammany Castle / Thos Girtin’ on the back

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Scottish View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
44 as 'Tarnaway Castle, Moray'; 'c. 1793'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and February 2020


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); ... Sydney Decimus Kitson (1871–1937); bequeathed to the Gallery, 1938

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin showing the old castle of Darnaway, west of Elgin and close to the Scottish north-east coast, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin never visited the site himself. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of the country in the late summer of 1792, and this sketch of the soon-to-be-rebuilt castle is dated 17 September. 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 generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm) and with their own mounts, though the mount has been lost in this case (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours after Moore’s sketches, including about thirty compositions derived from drawings made on the trip to Scotland. Moore employed other artists to work up his sketches for reproduction, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), but it seems that the seventeen-year-old artist, who may still have been an apprentice at this date, was tasked with simply producing the best watercolours he could from the little more than functional records produced by the antiquarian. Moore’s collection of watercolours by Girtin, which eventually numbered over a hundred, remained in the ownership of his descendants until it was broken up after 1912.

Moore’s drawing is inscribed ‘Tarnaway Castle’, the alternative spelling for the building, and it is an invaluable record of the old castle before it was swept away at the beginning of the nineteenth century to make way for a new mansion. The castle was built on a low ridge, and Moore’s view shows how it is flanked by an ancient royal forest, rendering ‘the situation at once romantic and pleasant’. This description comes from the text that accompanies the engraving in John Walker’s (active 1776–1802) Copper-Plate Magazine, which is inscribed as being ‘from an Original Drawing by T. Girtin’ (see the print after above) (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.5). The engraving was published in 1800, by which time Moore was dead, so it is likely that Girtin’s patron lent the drawing to the engraver before 1799, together with six other watercolours that he had commissioned from the artist. The views that Walker engraved included two other Scottish views, Abernethy Round Tower (TG0093) and Duff House, from the River (TG0184), the rest being English scenes. The remainder of Walker’s text describes the fifteenth-century Great Hall, one of the finest surviving medieval interiors in Scotland, and this part of the ancient castle was retained in the new building.

1792 - 1793

Abernethy Round Tower



Duff House, from the River


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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