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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

Pevensey Castle: View of the North and East Towers

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0287: Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), after (?) James Moore (1762-1799), Pevensey Castle: View of the North and East Towers, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 15.2 × 21.6 cm, 6 × 8 ½ in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Pevensey Castle: View of the North and East Towers
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
15.2 × 21.6 cm, 6 × 8 ½ in
Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
97 as 'Pevensey Castle'; '1795'
Description Source(s)
Girtin Archive Photograph


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, £10; bought from him by Thos. Agnew & Sons (stock no.7987), 10 April 1913; bought by R. C. Lyall, 20 February 1914; Fine Art Society, London, 1949

Exhibition History

Agnew’s, 1914, no.104; Fine Art Society, 1949, no.30


Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28, note 3

About this Work

Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak suggested in their 1954 monograph that this work was ‘an on-the-spot collaboration between’ Girtin and his first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99). They also dated the work to the summer of 1795, when, they argued, Girtin ‘visited Moore from time to time in Kent, where the antiquarian was engaged in a tour of the Cinque Ports region’ (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28). The work is known only from a poor-quality black and white image, and it is very difficult to be certain about anything without more evidence, but the authors’ hypothesis falls down on a number of grounds, not least that there is no evidence that Girtin ever travelled to Sussex. It is possible, of course, that Girtin worked over a pencil drawing that Moore had made on the spot, and that would account for why no sketch by Moore of this composition has been traced. But by far the more probable scenario is that this work is no different from the seventy or so other studio watercolours that Girtin made from his patron’s sketches back in London in the winter of 1792–93, each made on paper measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), as here. Moreover, any stylistic immaturity, which presumably led Girtin and Loshak to conclude that the amateur must have had an input in the work, can be accounted for by the idea that it was made at an earlier date than the 1795 they propose, and that it was thus based on a sketch that Moore executed on his 1790 visit to Pevensey.

Girtin’s watercolour depicts the castle’s North Tower, with the East Tower beyond, and so we are looking east. Girtin painted another view of the North Tower looking south, which shares the same dimensions (TG0218), and no doubt the two works formed a pair. In the end we can be sure that Girtin did not visit the site because, as with so many of his watercolours after Moore’s drawings, the image is distorted by the type of basic error in perspective that was the signature of the amateur’s work as a draughtsman. The two towers are in reality about thirty-five metres apart, joined by a massive curtain wall, but conveying this was clearly beyond Moore’s capabilities. Without the advantage of seeing the site for himself, Girtin had no alternative but to repeat his patron’s error.

1792 - 1793

Pevensey Castle: The North Tower with the Gatehouse in the Distance


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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