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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Kidwelly Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0097: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Kidwelly Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount, 10.4 × 14.8 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in. Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI, anonymous gift (72.171.21).

Photo courtesy of Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Anonymous gift (72.171.21) (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Kidwelly Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount
10.4 × 14.8 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in

‘bt by Maurice de Landres [?], one of the 12 knights who cor... ruined Gla’ on the back, by James Moore

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; South Wales

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Gallery Website


James Moore (1762–99); given or lent to 'Mr Scott', 1797; .... Matthew H. Horsley; his sale Christie's, 5 July 1946, lot 76; bought by Spink & Son Ltd, London, £68 5s; Sir Arthur Colegate (1883–1956); Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1956; Thos. Agnew & Sons, 1957; bought from them by an anonymous collector, £120; presented to the Museum, 1972

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1957, no.11; Ackland, 1975, no.31

About this Work

George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824), after James Moore (1762–99), aquatint, 'Kidwelly Castle' for <i>Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales</i>, p.33, 1 August 1791, 7.3 × 10.1 cm, 2 ⅞ × 4 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This view by Girtin of Kidwelly Castle in Pembrokeshire was produced after an untraced sketch made by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and Girtin certainly never visited the site himself. Girtin’s earliest patron toured South Wales in 1788 and he sketched the ruins of the castle on 29 August. One of his views of Kidwelly was reproduced as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) and was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see figure 1) (Moore, 1792), but Girtin must have worked from another sketch that showed the riverfront of the castle. Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing small watercolours on paper generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), with each carefully mounted with the patron’s inscription (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1. In all Girtin produced as many as seventy watercolours from Moore’s mundane sketches, amongst which there are a handful of smaller works, such as this example and Manorbier Castle (TG0103). The majority of the drawings remained in the ownership of Moore’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, but a note in the Moore Archive in the Print Room of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, records that this work and Corfe Castle (TG0115) were given to a ‘Mr Scott’ in March 1797. The identity of ‘Mr Scott’ is not known, but it is possible that it was Edmund Scott (1746–1810) the engraver and that Girtin’s drawing was lent in order to be published.

The view of Kidwelly is one of seven that Girtin made from sketches Moore executed in South Wales during two tours. They all show close-up views of the region’s ancient castles and, typically of the set, this watercolour omits details of the building’s setting next to the river Gwendraeth in favour of a detailed record of the fortifications, which Moore thought made for a ‘delightful subject for the pencil’ (Moore, 1792, p.33). Omitting the great south gatehouse, the image depicts the eastern flank of the castle, with the south-east tower and the projecting chapel showing prominently from a close viewpoint on the slope up from the river. Like the other views of castles in South Wales, such as Manorbier (TG0103) and Chepstow (TG0134), Carew is shown under a placid sky and there is no attempt to develop any effects that might evoke associations appropriate to the site. All of this suggests an early date for this group of works, when the young Girtin was content to render the sketches of his patron in an even light with no ambition other than to depict the nation’s ruins accurately and as simple picturesque scenes.

1792 - 1793

Manorbier Castle


1792 - 1793

Corfe Castle


1792 - 1793

Manorbier Castle


1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle


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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