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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

The Gatehouse of Amberley Castle

1795 - 1796

Primary Image: TG0371: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), The Gatehouse of Amberley Castle, 1795–96, graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card), 7.7 × 12 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in. Tate, Turner Bequest CCCLXXIX 6 (D36631).

Photo courtesy of Tate (All Rights Reserved)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The Gatehouse of Amberley Castle
1795 - 1796
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on laid paper (card)
7.7 × 12 cm, 3 × 4 ¾ in
Object Type
Colour Sketch: Studio Work; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Sussex View

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in January 2018


Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 81 or 82 as 'Views and ruins, in colours, on cards 10' by 'Turner'; bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), £8 18s; accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest, 1856

Exhibition History

National Gallery, London, on display up to 1904, no.817a


Finberg, 1909, vol.2, p.1242 as 'Saltwood Castle, Kent' by Thomas Girtin; Tate Online as 'A Gateway with Two Round Towers' (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

The Gatehouse, Amberley Castle

This informal sketch-like view of the fourteenth-century gatehouse to Amberley Castle in Sussex is one of a set of about twenty watercolour cards bought by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the posthumous sale of his and Girtin’s patron Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 81 and 82). They now form part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain, where the majority of them are attributed to Girtin. The watercolours, all painted on card measuring roughly 3 × 4 ¾ in (7.6 × 12.1 cm), were mainly executed around 1795–96 after a set of outline drawings that Girtin copied from the sketches of his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). In this case the outline has not been traced and it may also be that the ultimate source of Girtin’s image was a sketch by his master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). A similar view of the gatehouse at Amberley was engraved for the Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet and the print is inscribed as ‘after a sketch by E. Dayes’ (Storer and Greig, 1807–11, vol.1). A watercolour of the same view by Moore himself is noted as being ‘by J Moore from Sketch by E. J. Dayes’ and is dated ‘27 Sept 1790’ (see figure 1). However, the view depicted by Girtin is more face on. Therefore, in keeping with the amateur’s limited artistic abilities, it is not out of the question that Girtin worked from an untraced sketch that Moore made on subsequent trips to Sussex, in 1793 and 1795. The identity of the subject of this watercolour has also hitherto proved problematic, as it has variously been titled ‘Saltwood Castle, Kent’ and ‘A Gateway with Two Round Towers’. The discoveries of the views by Moore and Dayes during the course of the preparation of this online catalogue have at least finally established the correct identity.

It is possible that Monro may have had a publication in mind when he commissioned Girtin to produce small-scale watercolours such as this, but their rapid, even careless execution and sketch-like appearance, suggesting that the work was made on the spot, indicate an altogether different kind of commodity. Indeed, the subjects that were chosen for this informal sketch-like treatment do not follow any obvious pattern, either by geography or building type, that might have made for a thematically unified publication. It may be that there is nothing that unites the group other than that Girtin’s outlines after the sketches of Moore, Dayes and others provided a ready resource from which sketch-like watercolours might be rapidly produced.

The paper is discoloured as a result of excessive exposure to light whilst on long-term exhibition. The differently toned areas (left and right) were protected by an earlier mount.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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