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Works James Moore and Thomas Girtin

The Ypres Tower, Rye

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0310: James Moore (1762–99) and Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), The Ypres Tower, Rye, (?) 1795, graphite on wove paper, 16.7 × 22.4 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ⅞ in. Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1916.20.33).

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

James Moore (1762-1799) and Thomas Girtin (1775-1802)
  • The Ypres Tower, Rye
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite on wove paper
16.7 × 22.4 cm, 6 ⅝ × 8 ⅞ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Outline Drawing
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Sussex View

The Ypres Tower, Rye (TG0342)
Catalogue Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 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.472, no.1421 as 'Ipres Tower, Rye' by James Moore

About this Work

This slight pencil sketch showing the Ypres Tower at Rye in Sussex was made by Girtin’s first significant patron, the antiquarian and amateur artist James Moore (1762–99). 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 propose 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 suggests that The Ypres Tower, Rye 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 variation 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 watercolour of the composition (TG0342). This is likely to have occurred back in London as there is no clear evidence that Girtin travelled with Moore on any of the three trips he made to Sussex (in 1790, 1793 and 1795). It is not clear on which of these trips Moore made his sketch, though generally it was those from the 1795 trip that Girtin worked over. This is confirmed by the studio watercolour, which appears to date from around the same date.

Rye is a hill town and earlier in its history it also had the added defensive advantage of being surrounded by water on three sides. Nonetheless, the town suffered during the Hundred Years’ War with France, and the Ypres Tower was built in the fourteenth century as part of a defensive circuit of walls and towers that included the Landgate, which was also the subject of a drawing by Girtin (TG0223). Unlike Girtin’s other view of the Ypres Tower (TG0336), however, much of the building is obscured by a more humble domestic structure, which hides its role as a prison and courthouse.

(?) 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 - 1796

The Ypres Tower, Rye


(?) 1795

The Landgate, Rye


1795 - 1796

The Ypres Tower, Rye


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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