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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

London: The Demolition of the Old Porch of the Guildhall

(?) 1793

Primary Image: TG0130: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), London: The Demolition of the Old Porch of the Guildhall, (?) 1793, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 17.1 × 21.5 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ½ in. London Metropolitan Archives (q4920329).

Photo courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives (City of London) (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), The Old Front of the Guildhall, London, 1789, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on laid paper, 22.9 × 35.6 cm, 9 × 14 in. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (WA1916.20.5).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • London: The Demolition of the Old Porch of the Guildhall
(?) 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount
17.1 × 21.5 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ½ in
Mount Dimensions
21.3 × 25.6 cm, 8 ⅜ × 10 ⅛ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
London Architetcture

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
12 as 'Old Front of the Guildhall, London'; '1791'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2016


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); J. Palser & Sons (stock no.17469); bought by Charles Cheers Wakefield (1859–1941) for the Guildhall Library, 4 February 1918; transferred to the Guildhall Art Gallery, 1937

About this Work

The Old Front of the Guildhall, London

This view by Girtin of the rebuilding of the porch of the medieval Guildhall in the City of London was made for the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). It is based on two drawings that Moore made during the project, one of which is inscribed ‘Old Front of Guildhall – London Drawn on the Spot May 8th 1789 by Jas. Moore’ (see the source image above and figure 1). Moore’s record of the porch before it was substantially demolished and remodelled by George Dance the Younger (1741–1825) provides valuable evidence of its appearance and helps to date the progress of his scheme for the south facade of the hall. The impressive new porch – built in a quasi-oriental style, something that Nikolaus Pevsner has described as ‘Hindoo-Gothic’ – is said to date from 1788–89, but by the date of this drawing (May 1789) it appears only to have progressed as far as the demolition of the top storey of its modestly proportioned medieval predecessor (Bradley and Pevsner, 1997, p.298). The completed nine-bay structure, which still survives, incorporates the fifteenth-century doorway, but the project swept away the two upper storeys to create a fantastical structure that bears little relation to the original building recorded by Moore. The drawing also provides a useful record of the late sixteenth-century sculptures of Law, Learning, Discipline, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance that decorated the porch as well as part of the old chapel to the right.

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, as here, roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), with each carefully mounted, often with the patron’s inscription (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In all Girtin painted seventy or so watercolours from Moore’s mundane sketches, and, though the majority depict castles and monastic remains, there are a handful of urban sites too, including two views of the Albion Mills in Southwark (TG0105 and TG0114) as well as other examples of London’s medieval buildings in the process of demolition (TG0226). The degree to which the artist frames the record of an ancient building with a contemporary street scene is uncharacteristic of the works made for Moore, however. The temporary fence erected around the building work, which in Moore’s view is almost bare, has attracted the attention of a bill poster, whose work is admired by a group of passers-by, whilst a matchseller and a shoeshiner ply their trade in the foreground. Likewise, the crane that surmounts the porch in Moore’s view is manned by three workmen in Girtin’s watercolour, and they carry out the process of demolition, which in his patron’s sketch seems to have been frozen in time. One particular contemporary detail stands out demanding comment. To the left of the bill announcing the ‘Lottery’, another sheet posted to the fence announces ‘WAR WAR WAR’, referring, presumably, to the declaration of war with revolutionary France in February 1793. This would fit in with Girtin’s documented work for Moore and means that the view was one of the last of the first group of works that he made for his patron,

1792 - 1793

Interior of the Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire


1792 - 1793

The Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire


1795 - 1796

Part of the Ruins of the Savoy Palace, Westminster Bridge Beyond


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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