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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Hastings: The View across the Beach to Castle Hill

1793 - 1794

Primary Image: TG0314: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Hastings: The View across the Beach to Castle Hill, 1793–94, graphite on paper, 25 × 39.6 cm, 9 ⅞ × 15 ⅝ in. Hastings Museum and Art Gallery (1953.23).

Photo courtesy of Hastings Museum and Art Gallery

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Hastings: The View across the Beach to Castle Hill
1793 - 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
25 × 39.6 cm, 9 ⅞ × 15 ⅝ in
Object Type
Copy from an Unknown Source; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Coasts and Shipping; Sussex View

Hastings Castle and Priory Bridge (TG0314a)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
101 as 'Hastings'; 'An original sketch'; '1795'
Description Source(s)


Charles Sackville Bale (1791–1880); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie’s, 16 May 1881, lot 391 (9 items); bought by 'Palser', £3 5s; J. Palser & Sons; Edward Cohen (1817–86); then by bequest to his niece, Isabella Oswald (1838–1905); her posthumous sale, Robins & Hine, 30 March 1905, lot unknown; Sir Edward Marsh (1872–1953); bequeathed through the National Art-Collections Fund (The Art Fund), 1953

About this Work

Hastings from the East

This intriguing drawing depicts the view across the beach at Hastings to Castle Hill, with the fishing fleet drawn up in front of the picturesque shoreline cottages. Girtin is not known to have visited Hastings, on the Sussex coast, but he certainly knew about the town’s picturesque scenery, having enhanced and improved on a series of drawings of its churches and the Undercliff made by his earliest patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), probably in 1795; examples include The West Tower, All Saints’ Church, Hastings (TG0227) and Undercliff, near Hastings (TG0309). It is possible that Girtin based this drawing on an untraced outline by Moore or even that he again worked over and enhanced a slight sketch of his patron. However, Moore tended to work on a much smaller scale and the castle, typically the focus of interest for antiquarians, barely registers. Given that Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), also visited Hastings, it is therefore likely that it was one of his views of the town’s coastal setting that provided the source for the drawing. Two of Dayes’ sketches of the cliffs at Hastings were made into watercolours (see figure 1 and TG0314a figure 1), and the view from the east, although from further away and from a slightly different angle, features the same elements as Girtin’s pencil drawing, including the beached fishing boats and the fragmentary ruins of the castle on the cliff above. These include the suggestion of an ‘undisguised human face’ in the rocks in the foreground, which, as Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak point out, Girtin considerably exaggerates in his drawing to humorous effect, creating, literally, a cliff-face (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.147).

It is not known when Dayes visited Hastings, but the relatively early date of watercolours such as Hastings from the East (see figure 1) suggests that it was perhaps during the period of Girtin’s apprenticeship, say between 1790 and 1792. Girtin’s drawing appears, on stylistic grounds, to date from later, however, begging the question of what function it performed if both its subject and its large scale, more suited to a studio watercolour, rule it out as having been made on the spot. Girtin’s pencil copies of Dayes’ works, such as The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt (TG0360), which the younger artist made as a model for a sketch-like studio work (TG0291), are all comparatively small and relatively lightly worked. I wonder, therefore, whether we are looking at something different in the case of this view of Hastings: the first stage in the production of a studio watercolour, either an abandoned underdrawing or a preparatory drawing for what would have been a relatively complex composition in which the interaction of boats and buildings needed to be studied in uncharacteristic detail.


The West Tower, All Saints’ Church, Hastings


(?) 1795

Undercliff, near Hastings


1794 - 1795

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt


1795 - 1796

The Medieval Kitchen, Stanton Harcourt


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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