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Works Thomas Girtin

One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea

(?) 1796

Primary Image: TG0352: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea, (?) 1796, watercolour, bodycolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 21.3 × 16.7 cm, 8 ⅜ × 6 ⅝ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.129).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea
(?) 1796
Medium and Support
Watercolour, bodycolour and pen and ink on wove paper
21.3 × 16.7 cm, 8 ⅜ × 6 ⅝ in

‘Girtin 1796’ lower right by (?) James Moore; 'Monument in Winchelsea Church' on the back

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
145 as 'Winchelsea Church'; '1796'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 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); bought by Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931), 1912, £10; his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


Bell, 1915–17, p.76; Mayne, 1949, p.100; Brown, 1982, p.335, no.730 as 'The Tomb of Gervase Alard in Winchelsea Church, Sussex'

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin showing one of the early fourteenth-century Alard monuments in St Thomas’, Winchelsea, was made after a sketch by his first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99) (TG0352a), and Girtin himself did not visit the site. Moore’s drawing is one of a dozen or so examples of where Girtin elaborated and corrected his patron’s tentative and often inept sketches, before going on to produce a finished watercolour of the subject himself. The watercolours are the same size as the sketches and it may be that the process of reinforcing the lines of the latter helped to make it easier to trace the composition prior to the addition of watercolour. Girtin is first documented as having worked for Moore in the winter of 1792–93, producing the first of seventy or so small watercolour versions of his patron’s compositions, but this and the other works based on drawings improved by Girtin date from later. The unfinished mount that surrounds this work is inscribed ‘Girtin 1796’, but this is not in Girtin’s hand and was probably added by Moore. Nonetheless, it is likely to be broadly accurate and reflects a shift in Girtin’s attitude towards his patron’s antiquarian subject matter. The artist still employed Moore’s sketch to produce an image that faithfully represents the highly decorative monument, but he added the figure of a friar as though the parish church of Winchelsea was in fact an intact ancient monastery, with the suggestion that we are looking at a scene from a Gothic romance dating from the superstitious pre-Reformation period.

The monument has been identified as that of Gervase Alard (1270–1340), Admiral of the Cinque Ports Fleet (Brown, 1982, p.473). The more complex structure of Gervase’s tomb is probably the monument to the east in the south aisle, and the monument depicted by Moore belongs to an unidentified member of the same family that abuts onto the interior wall that partitions off the chancel from the ruined transept. All of the spectacular Alard tombs date from around 1310–20.

(?) 1790

One of the Alard Monuments in the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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