For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.
Works Thomas Girtin after (?) Edward Dayes

Rochester Cathedral and Castle, from the North East

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0076: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Rochester Cathedral and Castle, from the North East, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 37.3 × 48.2 cm, 14 ⅝ × 19 in. Eton College, Windsor (FDA-D.262-2010).

Photo courtesy of Eton College, Reproduced by permission of the Provost and Fellows of Eton College (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
  • Rochester Cathedral and Castle, from the North East
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
37.3 × 48.2 cm, 14 ⅝ × 19 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Dover and Kent; Gothic Architecture: Cathedral View

Rochester Cathedral, from the North East, with the Castle Beyond (TG0363)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2002


Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1962; Martin Whiteley (1930–84); bequeathed to the College, 1984

Exhibition History

London, 2002, no.26


Salé, 2020, p.139

About this Work

This view, taken from a paddock to the north east of Rochester Cathedral, also includes the eleventh-century castle keep and, to the right, the tower of St Nicholas’ Church. In addition to this watercolour, Girtin produced three different views of Rochester subjects during the period of his apprenticeship to Edward Dayes (1763–1804), all from compositions by his master (TG0057, TG0071 and TG0015). Although no Dayes prototype has been found, there can be little doubt that this too was made after one of his sketches. Certainly, the young Girtin would not have been able to travel to Rochester as a fifteen-year-old apprentice, and, whilst he may have had access to the sketches of amateur artists such as James Moore (1762–99), the more sophisticated nature of the composition here again strongly suggests Dayes as the origin. Girtin certainly seems to have enjoyed the challenge posed by the complex arrangement of the main buildings, which are shown tightly grouped on a diagonal and from much closer to, and he repeated the composition three or four years later in a small watercolour for his new patron, Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (TG0363). From a typical Dayesian darkened foreground, the composition concentrates on the architectural subject, and, taking his cue from the broken sky, the young Girtin developed a complex play of light and shade across the buildings. The unusually close viewpoint also encouraged the artist to make a more extensive use of a broken and open pen-and-ink outline to render the different textures of the stonework across the buildings, as well as depict the details of the architectural features that are not apparent in the other more distant views.

Dayes thought enough of his apprentice’s work to send two of his Rochester views to an auction at Greenwood’s in January 1792 (Exhibitions: Greenwood, 25 January 1792, lots 69 and 72), and it is extraordinary to think that even at this early stage in his career the master sensed a commercial opportunity in Girtin’s work. One of these views was probably Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057). Although this too is undated, it feels later and thus comparable stylistically to the slightly more mature group of early commissions that were sold together in 1921, including views of Hereford Cathedral (TG0166), Warwick Castle (TG0168) and Chepstow Castle (TG0170). A date for all of these watercolours of 1792–93, compared to the 1791–92 dating of the works sent to auction by Dayes, suggests that although Girtin may have left his master’s studio, he still had access to his sketches and that, as in this case, he continued to make use of them to produce works on commission for a time after.

(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


1791 - 1792

Rochester, from the North



Rochester, from the River Medway


1795 - 1796

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


(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


1792 - 1793

A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1792 - 1793

Chepstow Castle, from the River Wye


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.