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Works Thomas Girtin after (?) James Moore

The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0128: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after (?) James Moore (1762–99), The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle, 1792–93, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 14 × 21.6 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ½ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.602).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
14 × 21.6 cm, 5 ½ × 8 ½ in

'Girtin' on the back, by (?) James Moore

Object Type
Outline Drawing; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; The Midlands

Catalogue Number
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); ... William Lamson Warren, Hertford, Connecticut; bought by Paul Mellon (1907–99), c.1950; presented to the Center, 1975


YCBA Online as 'Mettingham Castle' (accessed 02/09/2022)

About this Work

The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle

This sketch by Girtin of the ruined Norman keep of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire was probably made after an untraced drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99). Girtin’s earliest patron visited the castle in the autumn of 1789 on his return from a tour of Yorkshire and he included an aquatint of a different view of the keep in his Monastic Remains and Ancient Castles in England and Wales (see comparative image TG0128) (Moore, 1792). This sketch was discovered in one of two volumes of drawings from the collection of Moore that are in the Yale Center for British Art. The drawings are in the main by Moore himself, made on his numerous tours to gather material for his antiquarian publications, but they also include five sketches by Girtin as well as over forty of the outlines by Moore from which Girtin made finished watercolours for his patron. This sketch, which untypically includes some washes of colour, was attributed by the Yale Center to Moore himself but it is inscribed ‘Girtin’ on the back and the quality of the draughtsmanship is of a completely different standard to the bulk of the material in the volumes; there is therefore no doubt that it is by Girtin. The question of whether it was made on the spot is not quite so clear-cut, however. The artist is documented as having travelled with Moore in the summer of 1794 to the Midland counties and it is possible that Kenilworth was on a route that certainly included Lichfield, Peterborough and Lincoln, with Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon other possible destinations (Howlett, 1805). However, the fact that the drawing was discovered in a volume with other Moore subjects, and knowing that Girtin’s patron visited Kenilworth in 1789, suggests that this and another view of the castle (TG0153) were made after earlier sketches by Moore and that they date from the same period (1792–93) as the young artist’s other copies produced for the antiquarian. This is confirmed by the fact that the other Kenilworth sketch was clearly made from the same Moore composition that was reproduced as an aquatint in 1792 (see TG0153 figure 1).

More evidence that this work was made after a drawing by an amateur artist comes in the form of its simplistic and unconvincing composition, which by linking the keep to an unprepossessing part of the ruins shrinks its massive forms and negates any of its sublime qualities. The same effect is also a feature of the watercolour that Edward Dayes (1763–1804) was commissioned to produce from Moore’s untraced sketch (see figure 1), though he changed the angle of the building to some effect.

1792 - 1793

The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle


1792 - 1793

The Great Keep, Kenilworth Castle, with Leicester’s Gatehouse in the Distance


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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