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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0210: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir, 1792–93, watercolour on paper, 46.5 × 34 cm, 18 ¼ × 13 ⅜ in. Private Collection, Scotland.

Photo courtesy of Private Collection, Scotland (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
46.5 × 34 cm, 18 ¼ × 13 ⅜ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Durham and Northumberland; Monastic Ruins

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
67 as 'Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland'; '1793–4'
Description Source(s)
Auction Catalogue


Walker’s Galleries, London, 1921; Matthew H. Horsley; his sale, Christie's, 5 July 1946, lot 72 as 'Lindisfarne, or Holy Island Abbey'; bought by 'Ryman', £35 14s; Christie's, 25 June 1954, lot 15; bought by the Squire Gallery, London, £25 4s

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1921, no.57

About this Work

This view of the interior of the church of Lindisfarne Priory at Holy Island, off the Northumberland coast, is one of eight watercolours sold in 1921 that were said to have been commissioned from the young Girtin and that remained in the same family collection until that date (Exhibitions: Walker’s Galleries, 1921). The group includes views of Hereford Cathedral (TG0070 and TG0166), Warwick Castle (TG0168), Chepstow Castle (TG0178), Valle Crucis Abbey (TG0208) and Warkworth Castle (TG0177), none of which the young Girtin could have visited by this time. All of the drawings were made after compositions by his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), or, as here, his first patron, James Moore (1762–99). The amateur artist and antiquarian travelled to the north in the summer of 1792 and his sketch of the ruined church looking west is dated 19 August and inscribed ‘Holy Island Cathedral’ (see source image TG0143). 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 internal facade of the west front. It is unlikely that Girtin worked directly from Moore’s sketch, and in this case a pencil drawing that incorporates the same improvements seen in the early studio watercolour once existed (TG0143). This drawing was destroyed in 1928, but an old photograph records what must have been a common part of the young artist’s practice: the production of an enhanced record of a composition by another artist from which subsequent watercolours might be produced.

Holy Island Cathedral

The eight watercolours sold together in 1921 form a coherent group in terms of their scale, function and formal language, and the subjects – including ruined castles and abbeys, together with the cathedral of Hereford, each carefully placed in its landscape setting – are linked thematically. None of the works are dated, but there is nothing to suggest that they were not produced at roughly the same time that Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore for a fee of six shillings a day, from October 1792 to February 1793 (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 Given the fame and significance of Lindisfarne, it is surprising, initially at least, that Moore himself did not commission a work from Girtin, but in this case the patron turned to the more established watercolourist, Thomas Hearne (1744–1817), who produced a different view of the interior of the ruins, also from one of the amateur’s drawings (see figure 1). This work, like Girtin’s view of Lindisfarne, is significantly larger than the other thirty or so watercolours that Moore commissioned from sketches made on his northern tour in 1792. It appears, therefore, that Girtin made a series of copies of Moore’s compositions even where he did not have a commission from his patron, and that in this case he recognised the pictorial potential of the amateur’s sketch and its suitability for working up on a larger scale for an owner who wished to have a view that could be framed for display on the wall.

1792 - 1793

Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1795 - 1796

A Cow Grazing near a Pond, with a Church Tower Beyond


1792 - 1793

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


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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