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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Okehampton Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0131: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Okehampton Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on paper, on an original mount, 10.5 × 15 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of Christie's (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Okehampton Castle, Devon, 1791, graphite and watercolour on paper, 16 × 20.9 cm, 6 ¼ × 8 ¼ in. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (WA1916.20.14).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Okehampton Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on paper, on an original mount
10.5 × 15 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in

'Built by Baldruin de Brionii, who, as appears by Doomsday Book / was in Possession of it when that survey was taken' on the back of the mount, by James Moore

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; The West Country: Devon and Dorset

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
69 as '1794'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 1999


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); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £15 as 'Goodrich Castle'; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; his sale, Sotheby’s, 14 November 1991, lot 105; Christie’s, 8 June 1999, lot 29, £6,325

Exhibition History

Cambridge, 1920, no.9 as ’Goodrich Castle’; Sheffield, 1953, no.39; London, 1962a, no.121

About this Work

This view by Girtin of the ruins of Okehampton Castle in Devon was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). Girtin’s earliest patron visited the West Country in 1791 and he inscribed the sketch he made at Okehampton with the date, ‘July 16th’ (see the source image above). 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 roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), the same size as Moore’s sketches (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 This drawing is smaller than the seventy or so works that were initially produced for Moore after his drawings and, like his view of the tithe barn at Abbotsbury (TG0146), which is the same size, it may date from slightly later.

Okehampton Castle, Devon

In addition to the title and date, Moore’s drawing includes the points of the compass, and from these we can work out that his view looks west and was taken from a position near the West Okement river with the castle on a hill above. The highly picturesque location of the ruins, surrounded by woods, attracted the attention of numerous artists, amateur and professional, and Moore himself produced a second sketch from close by (see figure 1). This was reproduced as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (c.1749–1824) and was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales with a text that explains the attraction of the subject. ‘The pleasing though pensive thoughts which occupy the mind on visiting the scenes of ancient grandeur, are here rendered peculiarly so from the gloomy situation of these ruins, situated in a valley, confined on each side by steep hills, and watered by a rapid stream’, Moore wrote. Working from Moore’s sketch, Girtin was able to replicate the way in which the scattered ruins, overwhelmed in ivy, appeared to have been reclaimed by nature, but he postponed any attempt to render the ‘gloomy situation’ noted by his patron as being conducive to ‘pensive thoughts’ until he visited the site himself in 1797 (TG1276) (Moore, 1792, p.70).

1792 - 1793

The Tithe Barn at Abbotsbury, with St Catherine’s Chapel on the Hill


1797 - 1798

Okehampton Castle, from the West Okement River


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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