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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

Rochester Castle, from the South

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0231: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Rochester Castle, from the South, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 21.4 × 16.8 cm, 8 ⅜ × 6 ⅝ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.41).

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

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Rochester Castle, from the South
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
21.4 × 16.8 cm, 8 ⅜ × 6 ⅝ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
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 and presented anonymously to the Museum, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.474, no.1429

About this Work

This pencil sketch showing the imposing keep of Rochester Castle in Kent was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), who probably visited Rochester in the autumn of 1795. It is contained in an album assembled from fifty-three drawings that were acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from Moore’s descendants after 1912. They were catalogued by David Brown as being by Moore himself, but Brown added a note to a sketch of St Clement’s Church, Hastings (TG0308), suggesting that Girtin may also have ‘taken a hand’ in the drawing (Brown, 1982, p.471). I think it is possible to go a step further and propose that, given up to half of the drawings in the album are significantly stronger than Moore’s generally unconvincing sketches, such as Interior of the Albion Mills after the Fire (see source image TG0114), the professional artist had a ‘hand’ in many more of his patron’s outlines. The contrast in quality between the sketch of the Albion Mills and this drawing is significant enough, particularly in the architectural details, to suggest that Rochester Castle, from the South has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist using a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. Given that Girtin used many of Moore’s drawings for his own compositions, and recognising the quality of the additional pencil work, it was surely he who elaborated his patron’s on-the-spot drawing. This presumably happened in London as it is now reasonably clear that the artist did not accompany Moore on his trip. In this particular example, Girtin’s intervention is perhaps less clear-cut than others as the artist noticeably fails to correct the amateur’s faulty perspective in the tower to the left, and that may have been the reason why he does not seem to have executed a watercolour of the composition.

Girtin had already produced four major watercolours of Rochester by this date, all presumably from drawings made by his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and there is no evidence that he ever visited the city itself. Other Rochester views were made at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) at about this date and drawings such as The Keep of Rochester Castle, from the South East (TG0275) and Rochester Cathedral, from the North East (TG0363) were likewise produced at second hand with untraced drawings by Moore as the likeliest source for them as well.

(?) 1795

The West Tower, St Clement’s Church, Hastings; Studies of a Horse in Harness and Numerous Architectural Details


1792 - 1793

The Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire


1794 - 1795

The Keep of Rochester Castle, from the South East


1795 - 1796

Rochester Cathedral, from the North East, with the Castle Beyond


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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