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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Part of the Ruins of Croxden Abbey, from the East

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0152: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Part of the Ruins of Croxden Abbey, from the East, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 16.6 × 21.2 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ⅜ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1934.120.1).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99) and (?) Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Croxden Abbey, graphite on wove paper, 17.9 × 22.6 cm, 7 × 8 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (WA1934.120.2).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Part of the Ruins of Croxden Abbey, from the East
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount
16.6 × 21.2 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ⅜ in
Mount Dimensions
23.3 × 28 cm, 9 ⅛ × 11 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; The Midlands

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
63 as 'Croxden Abbey, Leicestershire'; '1793–4'
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, £25; his widow, Isabella Barnard; bequeathed to the Museum, 1934


Finberg, 1913, p.132; Mayne, 1949, p.99; Brown, 1982, p.326, no.713

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin showing part of the ruins of the abbey church at Croxden in Leicestershire 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 twelfth- and thirteenth-century ruins at Croxden during his return journey to London on 26 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 generally on paper measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), as here, each with its own distinctive washline mount (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 In this case the colour from the drawing has seeped onto the mount, a good indication that it was conceived as an integral part of the watercolour. 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. Moore employed other artists to work up his sketches for reproduction, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), but it seems that the seventeen-year-old artist, who may still have been an apprentice at this date, was tasked with simply producing the best watercolours he could from the little more than functional records produced by the antiquarian. Moore’s collection of watercolours by Girtin, which eventually numbered over a hundred, remained in the ownership of his family until it was broken up after 1912, when this work was acquired by a descendant of the artist.

Moore’s sketch shows the ruined abbey church from the east, with the ruins of the west front to the right and the south transept to the left. Moore invariably included a compass in his sketch to indicate the point of view he adopted, but here he also included a key listing some of the main features of the view. He presumably felt that his limited skills as an artist meant that his drawing required more information for a professional artist to make sense of it and thus produce an attractive watercolour. The notes include ‘Gleam of Sun’, ‘Dd. [Dead] Ivy’, and ‘Distant park’, which must have made Girtin’s task a little easier in what is otherwise a featureless and low-key scene. Moore’s drawing is noteworthy in another respect. At some point another artist appears to have worked over his typically weak drawing with a sharper and richer graphite line, picking out highlights and correcting the amateur’s tentative lines. The intervention of the professional artist is not as clear-cut as in the case of a substantial group of Sussex views made a couple of years later, including Battle Church, from the South East (TG0154) and The Landgate, Rye (TG0223a), but the drawing does look substantially better than the sketches Moore made on his Scottish tour and Girtin certainly had the opportunity to enhance the work of his patron as preparation for the production of his own watercolour.

(?) 1795

Battle Church, from the South East


(?) 1795

The Landgate, Rye


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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