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Works Thomas Girtin

The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0224: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 24.5 × 17.7 cm, 9 ⅝ × 7 in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.1166).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
24.5 × 17.7 cm, 9 ⅝ × 7 in
Object Type
Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Dover and Kent

Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
104 as 'Saltwood Castle, Kent'
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; 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

Goupil Gallery, 1922, no.14; London, 1962a, no.131; New Haven, 1986a, no.40

About this Work

This pencil drawing by Girtin of the gatehouse of Saltwood Castle, Kent, is a close copy of a sketch made by his first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99), who visited the castle in September 1795 (TG0224a). Moore’s drawing of the ruined gatehouse from the south is one of a dozen or so examples where Girtin elaborated and corrected his patron’s tentative and often inept sketches before going on to produce a drawing of the subject himself. The drawings are the same size as the sketches and it may be that the process of reinforcing the lines of the latter helped to make it easier for Girtin to trace Moore’s composition onto another piece of paper. Overlaying images of the two drawings makes it clear that, although Girtin carefully traced his patron’s drawing, he also took the opportunity to further correct the perspective so that the tower no longer seems to lean backwards. It is not known why Girtin made such a careful copy of his patron’s drawing. It is possible that Moore thought that it might be used as the basis for a print, as with The Landgate, Rye (TG0223). But, equally, Girtin may have used the process of tracing as a way of building up a stock of architectural subjects that might be used as the basis for watercolours, either for Moore himself or independently for another patron.

A pencil drawing with the title A Church Spire and Saltwood Castle was lent from the Moore collection to the centenary exhibition of Girtin’s work organised by the Burlington Fine Arts Club (Exhibitions: London, 1875). The church was presumably St Peter and St Paul, and its west tower had a saddleback roof before 1892. No trace of the drawing has been found, however, and the attribution to Girtin cannot be confirmed.

(?) 1795

The Gatehouse, Saltwood Castle


(?) 1795

The Landgate, Rye


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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