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

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0143: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir, 1792–93, graphite on paper, 21.6 × 16.5 cm, 8 ½ × 6 ½ in. Work Destroyed.

Photo courtesy of The Walpole Society (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Holy Island Cathedral, 1792, graphite on wove paper, 17.9 × 22.9 cm, 7 × 9 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.700).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite on paper
21.6 × 16.5 cm, 8 ½ × 6 ½ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Durham and Northumberland; Monastic Ruins

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir (TG0210)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Witt Library Photograph


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26–28 June and 1–2 July 1833 (day and lot number not known); bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851); accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1240 as 'Lindisfarne, "Holy Island"'; Finberg, 1913, p.130; Bell, 1915–17, p.50

About this Work

This sketch of the interior of the church of Lindisfarne Priory at Holy Island, off the Northumberland coast, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin did not visit the site himself until 1796. Girtin’s earliest patron travelled through Northumberland on the way to Scotland in the late summer of 1792 and his drawing of the ruined interior of the church is dated 19 August, the same day that he visited the nearby Bamburgh Castle (TG0116). In general, Girtin followed Moore’s sketches faithfully, but in this case he cut the composition to the right and converted it to an upright format, taking the opportunity to correct his patron’s faulty perspective, which had made a nonsense of the recession of the nave and the view of the interior facade of the west front seen in the distance. The drawing was destroyed in the flood in 1928 that affected some of the works of the Turner Bequest (then housed in the basement of the Tate Gallery at Millbank). However, the improvements evident in the vertical composition mean that it is clear from an old photograph that the assertion by Charles Bell that the sketch was probably by Moore but was ‘transfigured by the vigorous retouching of Girtin’ is erroneous (Bell, 1915–17, p.50).

Girtin produced a watercolour of the same composition (TG0210), part of a set of views of castles and ruined abbeys that he made for an unknown early patron around 1792–93. It is possible that Girtin’s pencil version of the Moore composition was made at the same date, but its presence in the collection of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), another of Girtin’s early patrons, suggests an alternative. Monro owned a substantial group of Girtin’s pencil drawings, most of which are early in date and copied from other artists, and it is possible that this example was commissioned by Monro at a slightly later date and was therefore produced independently from the watercolour. On balance, though, the stylistic evidence suggests an earlier date of 1792–93, when Girtin would have had access to Moore’s drawings. If this was the case, the drawing was not so much a preparatory study for the watercolour as an intermediary stage in its production. Given that it is unlikely that Girtin produced the larger studio work directly from Moore’s outline, the sketch was probably made as a record of a subject from which watercolours might subsequently be produced, and it is therefore a relatively rare survival of a type of drawing that was presumably a common part of his early practice.

1792 - 1793

Bamburgh Castle, from the East


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


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.