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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Duff House, from the River


Primary Image: TG0184: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Duff House, from the River, 1794, graphite, watercolour, pen and ink and scratching out on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 12.8 × 16.9 cm, 5 × 6 ⅝ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.3).

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

Print after: John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'after a Sketch by Jas. Moore Esqr' (James Moore (1762–99)), etching and engraving, 'Duff-House, Bamffshire' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.3, no.62, pl.124, 1 March 1797, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. British Museum, London (1862,0712.979).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Duff House, 1792, graphite on wove paper, 17.9 × 22.9 cm, 7 × 9 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.785).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Duff House, from the River
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour, pen and ink and scratching out on wove paper, on an original washline mount
12.8 × 16.9 cm, 5 × 6 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
17 × 21.4 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ⁷⁄₁₆ in

‘T. Girtin. 94’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin

Part of
Object Type
Drawing for a Print; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Country House View; Scottish View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
41ii as 'Duff House, Banff'; 'Late 1794'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


James Moore (1762–99); his widow, Mary Moore (née Howett) (d.1835); bequeathed to Anne Miller (1802–90) (lent to London, 1875); bequeathed to Edward Mansel Miller (1829–1912); bequeathed to Helen Louisa Miller (1842–1915); bought by the Museum, 1916, £21

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.46 as one of 'Two Views of Duff House, Banff, N. B.'


Bell, 1915–17, p.74; Davies, 1924, p.15; Hardie, 1934, p.18; Mayne, 1949, p.99; Hardie, 1966–68, vol.2, p.19; Brown, 1982, p.323, no.705

About this Work

This is the second of two watercolours showing Duff House, on the north-east coast of Scotland, that Girtin made after drawings by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above and source image TG0108), and unusually for the artist at this period it is dated – 1794. The first drawing (TG0108) was probably made during the winter of 1792–93, when Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore 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) from his patron’s modest sketches (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours, including about thirty compositions derived from drawings made on the trip to Scotland; this composition is based on a drawing made on 11 September 1792. Moore employed other artists to work up his sketches for reproduction, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and in general 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. In this case, however, Moore commissioned Girtin to produce a more carefully worked up version of his composition and he then handed this over to the engraver and publisher John Walker (active 1776–1802), who reproduced it in his Copper-Plate Magazine in 1797 as ‘after a Sketch by Jas Moore Esqr.’ (see the print after, above) (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.3).

Girtin’s drawing for the print is an altogether more sophisticated production than the initial, almost monochrome view he painted for Moore in 1792–93. Although it is actually smaller in order to fit the format of the print publication, it introduces a number of new features, including a boat on the river. Additionally, the artist referred back to Moore’s original drawing for details of the distant village of Banff and for the group of trees that now frames the right-hand side of the composition. This did not constitute quite enough picturesque incident, however, as the engraver added a fishing group in the foreground. Girtin’s 1794 watercolour of Duff House offers a stark contrast with the earlier view in other respects too. Thus, he employs a full palette of colours and a more sophisticated range of techniques, including the first example in the artist’s career of using scratching out to create white highlights from the exposed paper. Girtin’s original mount is also more ornate than those created for the earlier works for Moore, and the way that the colour seeps from the drawing onto the support indicates not only that Girtin himself mounted the drawing before completing it but also that this was a carefully considered part of the production process. It would have made no sense for an artist to create a fine decorative mount if the sole purpose of the drawing was to act as a model for an engraver, however, and no doubt the work was always intended to be returned to Moore after its loan to Walker.

1792 - 1793

Duff House, from the South


1792 - 1793

Duff House, from the South


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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