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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0208: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church, 1792–93, watercolour on paper, 31.8 × 43.2 cm, 12 ½ × 17 in. Private Collection.

Photo courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (All Rights Reserved)

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Watercolour on paper
31.8 × 43.2 cm, 12 ½ × 17 in
Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Monastic Ruins; North Wales

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church (TG0159)
The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church (TG0204)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
64i as 'Valle Crucis Abbey, Denbighshire'; '1793–4'
Description Source(s)
Sale Catalogue


Walker’s Galleries, London, 1921, £130; R. Skinner (Girtin and Loshak, 1954)

Exhibition History

Walker’s Galleries, 1921, no.60

About this Work

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church is one of eight watercolours sold in 1921 that were said to have been commissioned from the young Girtin and that remained in the same family collection until that date (Exhibitions: Walker’s Galleries, 1921). The group includes views of Hereford Cathedral (TG0070 and TG0166), Warwick Castle (TG0168), Chepstow Castle (TG0178), Lindisfarne Priory (TG0210) and Warkworth Castle (TG0177), none of which the young Girtin could have visited by the date of their production. All of the drawings were made after compositions by Edward Dayes (1763–1804) or, as here, Girtin’s first significant patron, 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. Girtin produced another version of the composition (TG0159) and, although it too is clearly based on Moore’s sketch, it was not commissioned by the antiquarian either. What seems to have been the case, therefore, is that whilst working on the project to translate a mass of Moore’s sketches of the nation’s castle and monastic ruins into small watercolours, numbering seventy or so examples, Girtin recognised the pictorial potential of this and other sketches by Moore, including a view of Lindisfarne (TG0210), which his patron surprisingly did not commission a watercolour of. This work, like the views of Hereford, Chepstow, Warwick and Warkworth, was therefore aimed at a different market, more attuned to the picturesque qualities of a site and where the work, being larger in scale, might be displayed framed on the wall. The complex figure group in the foreground of this example, with travellers and their animals taking a rest, combined with its emphasis on the ruin’s setting, therefore offers a contrast with the pre-eminence of the antiquarian subject typically found in the works Girtin produced for Moore, this despite the fact that the more picturesque treatment of the subject was still based on a drawing by the patron.

The eight watercolours sold together in 1921 form a coherent group in terms of their scale, function and formal language, and the subjects – including ruined castles and abbeys, together with the cathedral of Hereford, each carefully placed in its landscape setting – are linked thematically. None of the works are dated, but there is nothing to suggest that they were not produced at roughly the same time that Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore for a fee of six shillings a day, from October 1792 to February 1793. (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 Certainly, that might explain why the artist had access to Moore’s sketches. Stylistically, the work is therefore comparable with watercolours such Rochester Castle, from the River Medway (TG0057), which Dayes sent off to the sales rooms to sell before or soon after his apprentice left his control prematurely sometime in 1792. However, although the group may have been commissioned from the young artist, the income from the works may still have gone to Girtin’s master as part of the price of paying off his indentures.

1792 - 1793

Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

A Distant View of Hereford Cathedral


1792 - 1793

The Gatehouse and Barbican, Warwick Castle


1795 - 1796

A Cow Grazing near a Pond, with a Church Tower Beyond


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


1793 - 1794

The East End of Valle Crucis Abbey Church


1792 - 1793

Lindisfarne Priory Church, Looking West from the Choir


(?) 1791

Rochester Castle, from the River Medway


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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