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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Framlingham Castle

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0289: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Framlingham Castle, 1794–95, graphite on laid paper, 16.8 × 23.3 cm, 6 ⅝ × 9 ⅛ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXVII, 23 (D36594).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Framlingham Castle
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on laid paper
16.8 × 23.3 cm, 6 ⅝ × 9 ⅛ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; East Anglia: Norfolk and Suffolk

Framlingham Castle (TG0261)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1239 as 'Castle wall, with towers, on hill' by Thomas Girtin

About this Work

This view of Framlingham Castle in Suffolk is one of forty or so outline drawings by Girtin that came from the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), many of which were bought at his posthumous sale by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) and are now therefore to be found in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain. The majority were copied by Girtin from the sketches of either his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), or his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and none of the drawings were made on the spot. The outlines, all conforming to Moore’s standard size of roughly 6 × 8 ¾ in (15.2 × 22.2 cm), were probably made around 1794–95, at a time when Girtin, together with Turner, was employed at Monro’s home at the Adelphi to produce watercolour versions of the outlines of John Robert Cozens (1752–97), amongst others. The precise function of Girtin’s copies after the drawings of Moore and Dayes is not so clear, however. A significant number, as here, were used as the basis for small watercolours painted on card (TG0261), including fifteen or so that found a home in the Turner Bequest. Measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), they may have been produced with a topographical publication in mind (Wilton, 1984a, p.12). That, in itself, does not explain why Monro came to own the larger pencil copies, however. In the absence of any documentary evidence, my hunch is that rather than being commissioned by Monro, the drawings were produced by Girtin for his own use as models for possible watercolour compositions – they all depict views of subjects he could not have seen by this date – and that he subsequently sold them to his patron.

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

The sketch by Moore of Framlingham that Girtin copied here has not been traced, but it must have been made on his patron’s summer 1790 tour of East Anglia, a region that Girtin never visited himself. Another view of the castle from a different angle was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales, where it is noted as having been sketched on 27 August 1790 (Moore, 1792, p.10) and this was no doubt the source also for Dayes’ watercolour dating from 1791 (see figure 1). Framlingham was also the subject of one of Girtin’s earliest works, a watercolour that his master sent to auction in 1792, when the apprentice was still only seventeen years old (Exhibitions: Greenwood, 25 January 1792, lot 74). That untraced work was also presumably based on a sketch by Moore, though it is likely to have contained rather more detail than the outline drawing here. In general, Girtin copied the minimum information required to produce the small sketch-like watercolours commissioned by Monro. The watercolour that Girtin made from this drawing (TG0261) was separated from the rest of the group after Monro’s death and only reappeared on the art market in 2008, under the title ‘A View of a Castle’.

The attribution of the pencil outlines in the Turner Bequest was a matter of considerable confusion until the publication of Andrew Wilton’s cogently argued article on the Monro School in 1984 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.9–10). Initially, Alexander Finberg, the first cataloguer of the bequest, ascribed the outlines to Girtin but thought that they were made on the spot (Finberg, 1913). Charles F. Bell, in turn, recognised that the drawings were copies, but suggested that they were made by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) in relation to his work on Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles (Bell, 1915–17, pp.60–66). Then in 1938 Bell changed his mind and switched the attribution to Dayes, citing a letter from Turner in which he stated his opinion that the drawings he had bought from Monro’s sale had been produced by Girtin’s master (Bell, 1938–39, pp.97–103). Finally, Wilton’s article seems to have settled the argument, and I for one have no doubts about the attribution to Girtin of the set of drawings.

1795 - 1796

Framlingham Castle


1795 - 1796

Framlingham Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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