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Works Thomas Girtin and (?) James Moore

The Gatehouse of Beckingham Hall, Tolleshunt Major

1794 - 1795

Primary Image: TG0346: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) James Moore (1762–99), The Gatehouse of Beckingham Hall, Tolleshunt Major, 1794–95, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount, 21.3 × 19.3 cm, 8 ⅜ × 7 ⅝ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1170).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The Gatehouse of Beckingham Hall, Tolleshunt Major
1794 - 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount
21.3 × 19.3 cm, 8 ⅜ × 7 ⅝ in
Mount Dimensions
24.4 × 22.5 cm, 9 ⅝ × 8 ⅞ in

‘Girtin’ lower right on the original mount, by (?) Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Essex View; Gothic Architecture: Town and Domestic Fortifications

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
127 as 'Tolleshunt-Beckingham, Essex'; '1795'
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, £10; 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, 1962a, no.125; Reading, 1969, no.25; New Haven, 1986a, no.33


YCBA Online as 'Tolleshunt-Beckingham, Essex' (Accessed 06/09/2022)

About this Work

This watercolour of the sixteenth-century gatehouse to Beckingham Hall in Essex was painted by Girtin for his first significant patron, the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). Although the sketch on which Girtin based his composition has not been located, it was almost certainly made by Moore himself on his tour of Essex and East Anglia in the summer of 1790, and the artist did not therefore see the building at first hand. Girtin made some seventy or so small watercolours from Moore’s drawings in an initial phase of his association with the patron in the winter of 1792–93, but stylistically this work dates from a few years later. By this time, Girtin was also painting topographical views from his own sketches for Moore, but the patron still continued to commission watercolours after his mundane, often feeble sketches, though these tended to be larger in scale, as here. Because Girtin worked from an earlier drawing by Moore, which typically concentrates on the antiquarian subject to the exclusion of its landscape setting, he had no means of enhancing the picturesque interest to match the work’s increased scale and the result is not entirely satisfactory. The vegetation to the left only partly obscures the poor perspective, there are areas that have been coloured in a very careless way and the pencil work does not always coincide with the colouring, all of which is untypical of Girtin’s generally very professional approach to what must have been at the best of times a tedious task. All of this raises the possibility that the reason Moore’s drawing is missing is because Girtin actually used it as the basis for his watercolour, adding his washes to his patron’s outlines.

Beckingham Hall was once a very substantial house, but it had already been greatly reduced in size by the time of Moore’s visit. The gatehouse, located at the centre of an impressive early Tudor brick enclosure, remained as the only evidence of the house’s architectural eminence and was therefore a suitable subject for Moore’s pencil.

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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