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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0224a: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 22.2 × 16.5 cm, 8 ¾ × 6 ½ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.35).

Photo courtesy of Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (All Rights Reserved)

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
22.2 × 16.5 cm, 8 ¾ × 6 ½ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and 2018


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 and presented anonymously to the Museum, 1916


Brown, 1982, p.473, no.1423 as 'Saltwood Castle' by James Moore

About this Work

This pencil drawing showing the ruined gatehouse at Saltwood Castle, Kent, was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), who visited the castle in September 1795. It is contained in an album assembled from fifty-three drawings that were acquired by the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from Moore’s descendants after 1912. They were catalogued by David Brown as being by Moore himself, but Brown added a note to a sketch of St Clement’s Church, Hastings (TG0308), suggesting that Girtin may also have ‘taken a hand’ in the drawing (Brown, 1982, p.471). I think it is possible to go a step further and suggest that, given up to half of the drawings in the album are significantly stronger than Moore’s generally unconvincing sketches, such as Interior of the Albion Mills after the Fire (see source image TG0114), the professional artist had a ‘hand’ in many more of his patron’s outlines. The contrast in quality between the sketch of the Albion Mills and this drawing is so great, particularly in the architectural details, that it is clear that The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle has been corrected and enhanced by a superior artist using a sharper and more richly toned piece of graphite. The drawing is typical of the way in which Moore’s tentative outlines have been firmed up, his faulty perspective corrected and an exuberant level of decorative detail added. The manner in which the artist varies the pressure applied to the graphite to introduce subtle variations in tone, even within the same line, is characteristic of Girtin’s fine draughtsmanship, and it was surely he who elaborated Moore’s on-the-spot drawing prior to producing his own version (TG0224). Girtin appears to have traced the original sketch to create his own drawing of the ruined gatehouse, in which case the additional pencil work, particularly the reinforcement of the lines, would have helped the process, though why he wished to make a replica of the subject is not clear. This, together with the improvement of Moore’s original sketch, almost certainly took place in London as it is now increasingly clear that Girtin did not accompany his patron to Sussex in 1795, as was once thought (Girtin and Loshak, 1954, p.28).

Moore’s sketch of the late fourteenth-century gatehouse of Saltwood Castle looks south towards the ruins. The low viewpoint he adopted gives the structure a monumental quality that would have made it an attractive subject for a watercolour, though none is known to have been commissioned by Girtin’s patron. Moore made at least one other drawing of the gatehouse that was enhanced by Girtin (TG0301), and two watercolours, one at least by Girtin, were developed from his sketches of different views of the castle (TG0259 and see TG0301 figure 1).

(?) 1795

The West Tower, St Clement’s Church, Hastings; Studies of a Horse in Harness and Numerous Architectural Details


1792 - 1793

The Albion Mills, Southwark, after the Fire


(?) 1795

The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle


(?) 1795

Saltwood Castle: The Gatehouse from a Farmyard


1795 - 1796

The Ruined Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle, Seen from the North


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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