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Works Thomas Girtin and (?) James Moore

Tolleshunt D’Arcy Church

(?) 1795

Primary Image: TG0317: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and (?) James Moore (1762–99), Tolleshunt D'Arcy Church, (?) 1795, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, 19.2 × 28.9 cm, 7 ½ × 11 ⅜ in. National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (D 5023.20).

Photo courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and (?) James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Tolleshunt D’Arcy Church
(?) 1795
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper
19.2 × 28.9 cm, 7 ½ × 11 ⅜ in

‘Tolshunt D’arcey’ vertically along the right hand edge, by (?) James Moore

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Essex View; Gothic Architecture: Parish Church

Tolleshunt D’Arcy Church (TG0252)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak Number
Description Source(s)
Viewed in 2001 and June 2002


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; sold through the Leicester Galleries, London, November 1912, £10 10s; bought by J. Palser & Sons (stock no.17186); bought by Sir Thomas Barlow (1845–1945), 7 May 1914, £21; then by descent to Helen Alice Dorothy Barlow (1887–1975); bequeathed to the Gallery, 1976

Exhibition History

London, 1912, no.32 as ’Folesham Church near Maldon’; Palser Gallery, 1914, no.93; Edinburgh, 1979, no.22


Baker, 2011, p.129

About this Work

This view of the church of St Nicholas in Tolleshunt D’Arcy in Essex came from the collection of Girtin’s 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, probably on his tour of Essex and East Anglia in the summer of 1790, and the artist did not therefore see the building firsthand. 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. Quite why Moore chose to commission a watercolour of such an unprepossessing building from Girtin is not clear, however. Perhaps the site had a personal association for the patron; indeed, it could be Moore himself posing in front of the building.

A very close variation of the subject was sold in 2010 with an attribution to Girtin’s contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) (TG0252). Whatever the status of that work, there is no doubt that this is the primary version of the composition. Indeed, there is some evidence that the reason that Moore’s original drawing has not been traced is that Girtin actually used it as the basis for his watercolour, adding his washes to the patron’s outlines. Although it is partly obscured by the faded sky, one can still see an inscription running vertically down the right-hand edge of the drawing that notes its subject – ‘Tolshunt D’arcey’ – as well as possibly a date, and both appear to be in Moore’s writing. Moore often inscribed Girtin’s watercolours with the subject, but this was invariably on the back of the mount and the logical explanation for the inscription’s partially obscured presence here is that the work started out as his outline drawing. This might also explain Girtin’s uncharacteristically prominent use of pen and ink to outline the forms: a way of improving and at the same time obscuring Moore’s amateurish pencil work.

1795 - 1796

Tolleshunt D’Arcy Church


by Greg Smith

Place depicted

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