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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea

1790 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0305a: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea, 1790–95, graphite on wove paper, 22.2 × 16.5 cm, 8 ¾ × 6 ½ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.38).

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

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea
1790 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
22.2 × 16.5 cm, 8 ¾ × 6 ½ in
Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Gothic Architecture: Parish Church; Sussex View

The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea (TG0305)
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 by Francis Pierrepont Barnard (1854–1931); presented to the Museum, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.473, no.1426 as 'Winchelsea Church' by James Moore

About this Work

This pencil drawing showing the church of St Thomas at Winchelsea, Sussex, was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99). 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 The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea 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, his faulty perspective corrected and an exuberant level of decorative detail added. 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. This is likely to have occurred back in London as there is no clear evidence that Girtin travelled with Moore on any of the three trips he made to Sussex (in 1790, 1793 and 1795). Thomas Girtin (1874–1960) and David Loshak date Girtin’s watercolour version of Moore’s composition to 1795 (TG0305) (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.147). However, as far as one can tell from the poor black and white photograph that is the only record of the work, it seems conservative in its appearance and may date from earlier, along with other Sussex views such as Pevensey Castle: View of the North and East Towers (TG0287), in which case Moore’s drawing may have been produced as early as 1790, with Girtin correcting and enhancing his patron’s work when he produced his watercolour, perhaps in 1792–93.

Moore made at least five drawings on his trips to the new settlement of Winchelsea, which was founded and built as a planned town at the end of the thirteenth century, and he commissioned three watercolours from Girtin as a souvenir of his visits. The view that Moore adopted for this drawing was an eccentric one, however, so that from this angle the magnificent tracery of the east windows is obscured by an unsightly buttress and a mass of ivy that overwhelms the structure. In fact, only part of the large church survived into the eighteenth century, but Moore could have done more to display the best of what remained.

(?) 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


1793 - 1794

The East End of the Church of St Thomas, Winchelsea


1792 - 1793

Pevensey Castle: View of the North and East Towers


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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