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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0133: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1148).

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

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle, 22 August 1791, graphite on laid paper, 16.7 × 21.1 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ¼ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.669).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original washline mount
17 × 22 cm, 6 ¹¹⁄₁₆ × 8 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
24.6 × 29.6 cm, 9 ⅝ × 11 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin; ‘Denbigh Castle’ on the mount, by James Moore; 'Built by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, to whom Kg Edwd 1st had given the Lordship' on the back, upper centre, by James Moore

Object Type
Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; North Wales

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle (TG0161)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
46i as 'Denbigh Castle'
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001


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 Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £25; given to Tom Girtin (1913–94), c.1938; bought by John Baskett on behalf of Paul Mellon (1907–99), 1970; presented to the Center, 1975

Exhibition History

London, 1875, no.34; Cambridge, 1920, no.3; New Haven, 1986a, no.7


Grundy, 1921a, pp.132–33

About this Work

This view by Girtin of the Great Gatehouse of Denbigh Castle was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and he did not visit the site himself until 1798. Girtin’s earliest patron visited North Wales in 1791 and he inscribed the sketches of the ruined castle with the date, 22 August. Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing watercolours on paper generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), and each was originally carefully mounted with the patron’s inscription, as here (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1 The fact that some of the watercolour has bled from this drawing onto the mount indicates that it was coloured after it was pasted onto the support and that the mix of wash and line was regarded by the artist as an integral part of the overall effect. In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours after Moore’s amateurish sketches and these remained in the ownership of the antiquarian’s descendants until the collection was broken up after 1912, when this particularly fine example was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

The Gatehouse, Denbigh Castle

The Great Gatehouse of Denbigh Castle, consisting of three octagonal towers, was built in the late thirteenth century and was part of Edward I’s plan to pacify the Welsh; it is probably his sculpted effigy that is shown above the entrance arch. The intricate masterpiece of military architecture was probably the work of Edward’s master mason, Master James of St George (d.c.1306). Though not as well known as the fortresses of Conwy and Caernarfon, Denbigh nonetheless held a great deal of interest for antiquarians such as Moore, but it also provided a highly picturesque subject. Girtin’s early master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), produced a freer view of the gatehouse with less emphasis placed on its architectural details (see figure 1). Although on roughly the same scale and taken from the same drawing by Moore, it was presumably aimed more at the lower end of the market for picturesque scenery and it was not commissioned by the antiquarian. Dayes’ view of Denbigh is of some significance, therefore, since it provides compelling evidence that Girtin’s initial connection with Moore and his work came in Dayes’ studio. Dayes’ version of the Denbigh composition may not be dated, but he is known to have begun making watercolours of Moore’s sketches as early as 1791 and there is little doubt that Girtin encountered Moore’s drawing of the Great Gatehouse during the period of his apprenticeship.

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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