For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Findlater Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0084: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Findlater Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1144).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Findlater Castle, 12 September 1792, graphite on wove paper, 17.9 × 22.9 cm, 7 ¹⁄₁₆ × 9 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B.1975.3.737).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Findlater Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
24.6 × 29.5 cm, 9 ⅝ × 11 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower right, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Findlater Castle’ on the mount, by James Moore

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Scottish View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


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); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £20; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

Reading, 1969, no.21; New Haven, 1986a, no.9; Münster, 2019, no.2

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin of Findlater Castle, overlooking the Moray Firth on the north-east coast of Scotland, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see source image above), and the artist himself never visited the site. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of the country in the late summer of 1792 and his sketch of the fourteenth-century castle ruins from the south is dated 12 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), each with its own distinctive washline mount, and, as here, inscribed by the patron himself (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In this case the colour from the drawing has seeped onto the mount, a good indication that it was conceived as an integral part of the watercolour. 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, when this work was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

Moore’s primary interest as an antiquarian was in the architecture of the ancient buildings he sketched on his travels around Britain, but, following the north-east coast of Scotland, it was the spectacular elevated locations of the succession of ruined castles he encountered that caught his attention. The amateur artist’s characteristically bland sketch of Findlater provided Girtin with the opportunity to develop more dramatic effects, and he added a turbulent sea and a lively windswept skyscape to bring the view to life. The former effect, however, like many of the seas Girtin painted at this date, including Dunnottar Castle in a Thunderstorm (TG0150), is formulaic and unconvincing, as one might expect from a young artist who almost certainly had not visited the coast or seen waves in action at this stage of his career. The sky, with its broken clouds and sharply delineated rays, is altogether happier in effect, showing how Girtin had absorbed the lessons of Dayes.

1792 - 1793

Dunnottar Castle in a Thunderstorm


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).

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.