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

Glasgow Cathedral, from the North East

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0111: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Glasgow Cathedral, from the North East, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 22 × 16.8 cm, 8 ⅝ × 6 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1215).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Glasgow Cathedral, 26 September 1792, graphite on wove paper, 17.8 × 22.7 cm, 7 × 8 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.761).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Glasgow Cathedral, from the North East
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount
22 × 16.8 cm, 8 ⅝ × 6 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
29.8 × 24.8 cm, 11 ¾ × 9 ¾ in

‘Glasgow’ on the back, by (?) James Moore

Part of
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View; Scottish View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
92 as 'Glasgow Cathedral'; '1794–5'
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

Cambridge, 1920, no.10; Agnew’s, 1953a, no.51; London, 1962a, no.122; New Haven, 1986a, no.24


Grundy, 1921a, p.130, pp.135-36

About this Work

John Walker (active 1776–1802), 'from an Original Sketch by Ja<sup>s</sup> Moore Esq.<sup>r</sup>' (James Moore (1762–99), etching and engraving, 'Glasgow' for <i>The Copper-Plate Magazine</i>, vol.2, no.50, pl.99, 1 March 1796, 15 × 20 cm, 5 ⅞ × 7 ⅞ in. British Museum, London (1862,0712.986).

This watercolour by Girtin showing Glasgow Cathedral from the north east was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin himself never visited the site. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of Scotland in the late summer of 1792, and his sketch of the southern flank of the cathedral from the Molendinar Burn is dated 26 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), as here, each with its own mount. 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. In general, Girtin followed Moore’s compositions closely, but in this case he cropped the view to the right to produce an upright scene, which has the effect of bringing the building closer. Other examples where Girtin truncated the lateral dimension in this way, such as Castle Stuart (TG0125), resulted in smaller drawings and, given that the original mount of Glasgow Cathedral, from the North East takes a different form from that seen elsewhere in the group of Scottish subjects produced around 1792–93, there is a suspicion that this work dates from later. This was the opinion of Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak, who suggested a date of 1794–95, and this indeed might explain the inclusion of a more complex group of figures than was generally the case with Girtin’s earliest work for Moore. Girtin and Loshak also point out that the staffage resembles that in a view of Glasgow Cathedral (see figure 1) that was engraved for The Copper-Plate Magazine (Walker, 1792–1802) in 1796 as ‘from an Original Sketch’ by Moore (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.146). Unlike Moore’s sketch, which barely indicates the stream, the engraving features a prominent group of women washing clothes, including someone who waves a sheet in the air in the same way as the central figure in Girtin’s group. Despite the credit line on the print, it is almost certain to have been produced from a watercolour by Edward Dayes (1763–1804) (sold at Christie’s, South Kensington, 23 March 2005, lot 47), and it was presumably he who inspired Girtin to include a similar group of washerwomen. Nonetheless, unlike the larger view Glasgow Cathedral, from the South West (TG0329), and regardless of the date of the engraving, I think that on balance an earlier date feels right for Girtin’s watercolour.

A second sketch that Moore made on 26 September furnished the basis for yet another drawing commissioned from a professional artist, and this too was engraved, this time for Moore’s own publication, Twenty-Five Views in the Southern Part of Scotland, where the text explains the attraction of the subject for the antiquarian. Thus, although the building had long since ceased to hold cathedral status, its ‘elegant Gothic structure’, particularly its ‘beautiful … spire’ seen on its ‘elevated situation’, made it the most impressive ecclesiastical monument to have survived the devastations of the Reformation (Moore, 1794, p.42). Alone of all the cathedrals and abbeys that Moore sketched on his tour, Glasgow was not even partially ruined.

A copy of the upright composition was discovered during the production of this catalogue. It is of some interest because it was presumably made by either Moore or a member of his family, as it replicates Girtin’s watercolour rather than the version that was engraved (see figure 2).

Glasgow Cathedral

Figure 2.
(?) James Moore (1762–99), after Thomas Girtin, Glasgow Cathedral, oil on board, 19.7 × 24.1 cm, 7 ¾ × 9 ½ in. Private Collection, Australia.

Digital image courtesy of Private Collection, Australia (All Rights Reserved).

1792 - 1793

Castle Stuart


1794 - 1795

Glasgow Cathedral, from the South West


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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.