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

Leiston Abbey

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0327: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Leiston Abbey, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on card (laid paper), 7.9 × 12.3 cm, 3 ⅛ × 4 ⅞ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Leiston Abbey
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on card (laid paper)
7.9 × 12.3 cm, 3 ⅛ × 4 ⅞ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
East Anglia: Norfolk and Suffolk; Monastic Ruins

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Girtin Archive Photograph


Squire Gallery, London, 1954

About this Work

This watercolour showing Leiston Abbey in Suffolk is known only from a poor black and white photograph found in the Girtin Archive (12/X), where it is described as being in ‘Pencil and grey wash only’ and dated, rather implausibly, to 1790–91. The fact that the work is painted on card (possibly made from layers of laid paper) measuring 3 ⅛ × 4 ⅞ in (7.9 × 12.3 cm) suggests a later date and that it was produced for Girtin’s important early patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833). Girtin painted a sizeable group of watercolours of mainly antiquarian subjects for Monro, including a view of Newport Castle, Monmouthshire, from the same unrecorded collection (TG0316), all of which were executed on a small scale on the same support. About twenty or so of these works were bought after Monro’s death by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Girtin’s collaborator at this date, and they are now part of the Turner Bequest. But other examples, which typically show some of the nation’s less well-known medieval monuments, still regularly turn up at auction, where they are often misattributed because they do not conform to the standard type of work that Girtin produced for Monro in collaboration with Turner.

The majority of the small cards from the Monro collection were made after pencil drawings that Girtin copied 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 there is no question that he ever visited Leiston. Moore toured East Anglia in the summer of 1790 and two sketches that he made of Leiston, both dated 28 August, are in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (1975.3.598; 1975.3.599). Although close, neither drawing, nor the aquatint that was made from one of them for Moore’s publication Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (Moore, 1792), quite shows the same view as here. Moreover, whilst it is possible that Girtin adapted Moore’s drawing to create a more picturesque view, his general practice was to copy the image faithfully and it therefore must be supposed that he worked from another untraced drawing by his patron.

1795 - 1796

Newport Castle, Monmouthshire


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.