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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Part of the Ruins of Alton Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0112: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Part of the Ruins of Alton Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 10.4 × 14.8 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.125).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Alton Castle, graphite on wove paper, 18.1 × 22.9 cm, 7 ⅛ × 9 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.772).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Part of the Ruins of Alton Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
10.4 × 14.8 cm, 4 ⅛ × 5 ⅞ in

'The seat of Bertram de Verdun the Founder of Croxden Abbey Temp Heny 2nd ... See Maga Brita 5. 97' on a label attached to the drawing, by James Moore; 'East Tower of Pevensey Castle ? Sussex' in a different hand

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
68 as 'called East Tower, Pevensey Castle'; '1794'
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); bought by Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931), 1912, £10; his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, pp.327–28, no.715 as 'East Tower of Pevensey Castle, Sussex'

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin showing the ruins of Alton Castle in Staffordshire was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin never himself visited the site. Girtin’s earliest patron undertook an extensive tour of Scotland in the late summer and early autumn of 1792, and he made his sketch of the insubstantial ivy-clad ruins at Alton on his return journey to London in September. Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing watercolours on paper generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm). In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours after Moore’s sketches, including about thirty compositions derived from drawings made on the trip to Scotland. Girtin also made a group of smaller composition after Moore’s drawings, and this example measures the same size as the dramatic view of Stonehenge (TG0095) from about the same date. In this case the young artist was able to do little to enhance the composition so dramatically, though he did include two figures surveying the ruins, who are presumably Moore and his companion on the tour, his fellow antiquarian John Charles Brooke (1748–94).

The watercolour has been wrongly titled ‘The East Tower, Pevensey Castle’ for over a century, but during the period of this catalogue’s creation I have finally been able to identify the true subject from the inscription that Moore added to the drawing. Although he did not identify the castle, Moore noted that the building was ‘the seat of Bertram de Verdun the Founder of Croxden Abbey’, and from this it was possible to link the watercolour to the patron’s sketch of Bertram’s seat, Alton Castle (see the source image above). A fragment of one of the castle’s twelfth-century towers and a stretch of the wall survive in the forecourt of Augustus Northcote Welby Pugin’s (1812–52) nineteenth-century fantasy castle, close to the equally eccentric spectacle of Alton Towers theme park.

1792 - 1793

Stonehenge during a Thunderstorm


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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