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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Manorbier Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0103: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), Manorbier Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 10.3 × 14.9 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ¾ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1925.296).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Manorbier Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
10.3 × 14.9 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ¾ in
Mount Dimensions
15.3 × 18.8 cm, 6 × 7 ⅜ in

‘Jas. Moore Delt’ lower left, on the mount, by James Moore; ‘Girtin Fecit’ lower right, on the mount, by (?) Thomas Girtin; ‘Manorbier Case. Pembroke’ centre, on the mount, by James Moore; 'Supposed to have been built about the time of Wm. Rufus / 1087 / to / 1100' on the back of the mount, by James Moore

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; South Wales

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
10 as 'Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire'; '1791'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2016


James Moore (1762–99); given to 'Holland', 22 March 1797; ... Dr John Percy (1817–89); his posthumous sale, Christie’s, 17 April 1890, lot 511; bought by 'Dowdeswell', 6 gns; Sir Henry Studdy Theobald (1847–1934); his sale, Sotheby’s, 13 May 1925, lot 68; bought by 'Bell' for the Museum, £6


Binyon, 1900, p.16; Mayne, 1949, p.99; Girtin and Loshak, 1954, pp.23–24, p.51; Brown, 1982, pp.318-19, no.696

About this Work

George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824), after James Moore (1762–99), aquatint, 'Mannorbeer Castle' for <i>Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales</i>, 1 January 1792, 7.3 × 10.1 cm, 2 ⅞ × 4 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection Library.

This view by Girtin of the entrance to Manorbier Castle, which occupies a coastal location in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, was produced after an untraced sketch made by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99), and Girtin certainly never visited the site himself. Girtin’s earliest patron toured South Wales in 1788 and he sketched the ruins at Manorbier on 26 August. Moore's drawing was realised as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) and was published as part of his Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see figure 1) (Moore, 1792). 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 all on paper measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), with each one originally carefully mounted with the patron’s inscription, as here (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 Although this work is slightly smaller, otherwise it is a typical example of the seventy or so watercolours that Girtin produced from Moore’s rather mundane sketches at this date. The majority of the drawings remained in the ownership of Moore’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, but, according to a note amongst Moore’s correspondence held in the Print Room of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, this work was given by Moore to a ‘Mr Holland’ on 22 March 1797.

The view of Manorbier is one of seven that Girtin made from sketches Moore executed in South Wales during two tours. They all show close-up views of the region’s ancient castles and, typically of the set, this view depicts the ivy-clad towers rather than the castle’s scenic coastal location. It seems that Moore’s limitations as an artist, combined with his antiquarian interest in the form of the fortifications, led him to concentrate on a simple view of the ruins. The drawing is of particular interest for our understanding of the relationship between Moore and Girtin as it is one of only two examples where the work is signed twice: ‘Jas Moore Delt’ and ‘Girtin Fecit’ (‘Moore drew it’ and ‘Girtin made it’) (the other being Cilgerran Castle, TG0090). This has led to some suggestions that both men worked on the sheet, with Moore producing the drawing and Girtin adding the colour. But there is no evidence of any such division of labour, and, given that both signatures are by the same hand, it would be more accurate to interpret them to mean that Moore designed the composition and Girtin made or executed it. The unusual double signature suggested to Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak that this was one of the earliest of Girtin’s commissions for Moore and they proposed a date of 1791, when Girtin was only in his second year as apprentice to Edward Dayes (1763–1804) (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.23). However, there is no evidence that Girtin worked for Moore until at least a year later, and stylistically this watercolour seems to date from 1792–93, when the connection with the patron is documented. Moreover, given that the double form of the signature also occurs on Cilgerran Castle, another work given by Moore to Holland, it would seem that both names were added by Moore himself when the drawing left his collection.

1792 - 1793

Cilgerran Castle


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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