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

Kinloss Abbey: The Abbot's House

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0106: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Kinloss Abbey: The Abbot's House, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 21.7 × 16.7 cm, 8 ½ × 6 ½ in. National Galleries of Scotland (D 5655).

Photo courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Kinloss Abbey, 17 September 1792, graphite on wove paper, 22.9 × 18.1 cm, 9 × 7 ⅛ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.748).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Kinloss Abbey: The Abbot's House
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
21.7 × 16.7 cm, 8 ½ × 6 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
22.7 × 17.9 cm, 9 × 7 in

‘Girtin’ lower centre, by Thomas Girtin; 'Kinloss' in ink on the back

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

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
43 as 'Kinloss Abbey, Elgin'; 'c. 1793'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in June 2018


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 Leggatt Brothers, London, 1915, £15 15s; ... H. Parkinson; his sale Christie’s, 1 March 1946, lot 45; bought by Thos. Agnew & Sons, £57 15s (stock no.4473); John Boynton Priestley (1894–1984); private collection, on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; bought, 2014

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin showing the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey of Kinloss, west of Elgin 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 Girtin himself never visited the site. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of the country in the late summer of 1792 and this sketch of the substantial ruins of the Abbot’s House is dated 17 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 distinctive washline mount (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.

Moore’s sketch of the ruined Abbot’s House at Kinloss includes a cart and a ladder, and from these sketchy details Girtin improvised a set of figures, animals and farm vehicles that illustrate how the once great building had become the centre of more humble activities. However, the tattered ruins of the tower house are evenly lit by a placid sky and there is no sense here of any of the significance that Girtin was later able to infuse into a juxtaposition of a fallen monument and its current humble usage, such as Valle Crucis Abbey: The Chapter House, from the South West (TG1345). Indeed, compared to other coastal views produced for Moore, such as Dunnottar Castle in a Thunderstorm (TG0150), there is no hint of any drama in a scene that has more in common with a lowland view, The Tithe Barn at Abbotsbury (TG0146).

1798 - 1799

Valle Crucis Abbey: The Chapter House, from the South West


1792 - 1793

Dunnottar Castle in a Thunderstorm


1792 - 1793

The Tithe Barn at Abbotsbury, with St Catherine’s Chapel on the Hill


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.