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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

Saltwood Castle: The Gatehouse from a Farmyard

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0301: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), Saltwood Castle: The Gatehouse from a Farmyard, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 16.7 × 22.1 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¾ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.34).

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

Print after: John Baily (c.1779–1834 or later), 'after an Original Sketch by Jas Moore Esqr. FAS' (James Moore (1762–99)), etching and engraving, 'Saltwood-Castle, Sussex' for The Copper-Plate Magazine, vol.4, no.79, pl.158, 1 September 1798, 15 × 20.4 cm, 5 ⅞ × 8 in. British Museum, London (1862,0712.930).

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • Saltwood Castle: The Gatehouse from a Farmyard
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
16.7 × 22.1 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¾ in

'Sept 17th' lower left, by James Moore; 'Pond' lower right, by James Moore

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.473, no.1422

About this Work

This pencil drawing showing the ruined gatehouse at Saltwood Castle, Kent, was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), who visited the site on 17 September 1795. It shows the same view from the south as a similarly sized drawing (TG0224), but with the addition of a picturesque farmyard scene in the foreground. 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 so great, particularly in the architectural details, that it is clear that Saltwood Castle: The Gatehouse from a Farmyard has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist using a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. The drawing is typical of the way in which Moore’s tentative outlines have been firmed up and his faulty perspective corrected, and the two carts, in particular, have been rendered with a new clarity. The manner in which the artist varies the pressure applied to the graphite to introduce subtle variations in tone, even within the same line, is characteristic of Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship, and it was surely he who elaborated Moore’s on-the-spot drawing back in London as it is unlikely that he ever visited Saltwood himself. This was presumably done to make the drawing suitable for reproduction, as an engraving of the composition appeared in The Copper-Plate Magazine in 1798 as ‘after an Original Sketch by Jas Moore’ (see the print after, above) (Walker, 1792–1802, vol.4). In many cases the works that appeared in print as by Moore were actually painted by Girtin, but in this case, as the overlay of images of the drawing and the print indicates, it seems that the engraver worked directly from Moore’s sketch, albeit one corrected and enhanced by his protégé. The drawing is thus reproduced almost exactly though it is extended to the right to conform to the rectangular format of the publication.

Saltwood Castle

A similar view of the gatehouse at Saltwood, in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, has been attributed to Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), though this has been disputed (see figure 1). Turner, like Girtin, had probably not visited Saltwood by this date, and it is possible that this watercolour too was made after a Moore composition, though the viewpoint is slightly different and the fenestration is not as closely observed. However, the drawing appears closer to the work of Girtin stylistically and I am increasingly of the opinion that an attribution to him makes more sense, especially if we accept his co-authorship of a sketch which, with a little imaginative input, could well have provided the basis for the watercolour.

Image Overlay

(?) 1795

The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle


(?) 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


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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