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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church

1793 - 1794

Primary Image: TG0159: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church, 1793–94, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 17.7 × 26.4 cm, 7 × 10 ⅜ in. Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields (82.175).

Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields (Public Domain)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Valle Crucis Abbey, 21 August 1791, graphite on laid paper, 17.1 × 21.1 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.663).

Photo courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (Public Domain)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church
1793 - 1794
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
17.7 × 26.4 cm, 7 × 10 ⅜ in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; North Wales

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church (TG0204)
The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church (TG0208)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
64ii as 'Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbighshire'; '1794'
Description Source(s)
Museum Website


Margaret Ethel Pheysey (d.1957); her posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 4 December 1957, lot 40; bought by John Mitchell & Son, £190, for Kurt F. Pantzer (1892–1979); bequeathed to the Museum, entering the collection in 1982


Mayne, 1949, pl.10; Flett, 1981, pp.137–38; Krause, 1997, pp.54–57

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin of the east end of the church of Valle Crucis Abbey in Denbighshire is based on a sketch made by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above). Moore toured North Wales in the summer of 1791 and his sketches of the ruined abbey and its picturesque situation amongst the mountains are dated 21 August. Girtin followed Moore’s sketch of the ruins carefully, but he enhanced their significance by bringing them much closer and by cutting the composition to the right so that the house shown in his patron’s sketch no longer intrudes on the abbey’s sequestered location. Girtin also fleshed out what are little more than vague outlines of trees in the sketch to recreate the sylvan setting that appealed to the tourists who travelled to the region in search of picturesque scenery and sites of antiquarian interest. Compared to the larger version of the composition that the young artist made at about the same time (TG0208), however, Girtin kept the foreground incident to a minimum, adding just a horse, a cow and a distant figure to the otherwise deserted ruins.

Valle Crucis Abbey, North Wales

Though there is no doubt that Girtin based his watercolour on Moore’s composition, the work does not seem to have entered his patron’s collection. Moreover, it is larger than the seventy or so watercolours of the nation’s castle and monastic ruins that Girtin made for Moore and there is no evidence that it ever had the characteristic inscribed mount that surround other Welsh views he commissioned, such as The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle (TG0133). That drawing can be dated reasonably confidently to late 1792 or early 1793, when Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore for a fee of six shillings a day, but stylistically this work is rather more sophisticated and it is one of a group of Moore subjects that date from a little later (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 Three Welsh scenes, each measuring about 18 × 25.7 cm (7 × 10 ⅛ in) and all after Moore’s compositions, emerged from a private collection in 1957 (Exhibitions: Sotheby’s, 4 December 1957). Conwy Castle, Looking West (TG0171) and another view titled The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle (TG0161) were also the subject of watercolours by Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), and it is possible that these two and The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church were made after Moore’s original drawing at one remove, with Dayes as the intermediary (see figure 1). It is also, of course, possible that the group of watercolours left the Moore collection before the first inventory of its contents were made, but on balance it seems more probable that Girtin continued to use Moore’s compositions after he completed his work for the antiquarian, and that he was thus able to fulfil a commission from an unknown later patron for three views of Welsh sites that he had not yet visited.

1792 - 1793

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle


1793 - 1794

Conwy Castle, Looking West


1793 - 1794

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The document detailing the payments made to the young Girtin by Moore is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1792–93 – Item 1).

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