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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Pembroke Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0132: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Pembroke Castle, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in, Winchester College Collections (Aw128).

Photo courtesy of Winchester College

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
Title
  • Pembroke Castle
Date
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
Dimensions
17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in
Inscription

'T. Girtin' lower right, by Thomas Girtin

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

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0132
Girtin & Loshak Number
23
Description Source(s)
Exhibition Catalogue

Provenance

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, £18; bought from him by Thos. Agnew & Sons (stock no.7989); bought by Harry Collison (1896–1945), 2 January 1919; presented to the College, 1940

Exhibition History

London, 1912, no.47; Agnew’s, 1914, no.101; London, 1988c, no.3; London, 2022, no.11

Bibliography

Foster, 2022, pp.34-35

About this Work

Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales

This view by Girtin of Pembroke Castle, sited on a rocky spur above the river Pembroke, 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 of the castle on 26 August. This drawing was realised as an aquatint by George Isham Parkyns (1749–c.1820) and was published in Moore’s Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see figure 1) (Moore, 1792). Girtin is documented as working for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for the sum of six shillings a day, producing watercolours on paper all measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), with each originally carefully mounted with the patron’s inscription (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 This typical example is one of as many as seventy small watercolours that Girtin produced from Moore’s 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, when this watercolour was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

The view of Pembroke 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 watercolour depicts a single ivy-clad tower rather than the more extensive scene and its river setting that was more normally portrayed by contemporary artists. According to the text of Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles, the scene shows the chapel, which was sited over a ‘natural cavern … called the Wogan hole’ and from this close viewpoint the Great Keep was not visible (Moore, 1792, p.120). Like the other views of castles in South Wales, such as Manorbier (TG0103) and Chepstow (TG0134), Pembroke is shown under a placid sky and there is no attempt to develop any effects that might evoke associations suited to the site. All of this suggests an early date for this group of works, when the young Girtin was content to render the sketches of his patron in an even light with no ambition other than to depict the nation’s ruins accurately and as simple picturesque scenes.

1792 - 1793

Manorbier Castle

TG0103

1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle

TG0134

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Footnotes

  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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