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Works Thomas Girtin after James Moore

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet

1792 - 1793

Primary Image: TG0121: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802), after James Moore (1762–99), Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet, 1792–93, graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount, 17.1 × 21.8 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ⅝ in. Touchstones Rochdale (428).

Photo courtesy of Touchstones Rochdale, Rochdale Arts & Heritage Service (All Rights Reserved)

Artist's source: James Moore (1762–99), Warkworth Castle, 18 August 1792, graphite on wove paper, 18.1 × 22.7 cm, 7 ⅛ × 8 ¹⁵⁄₁₆ in. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1975.3.698).

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

Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) after James Moore (1762-1799)
  • Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet
1792 - 1793
Medium and Support
Graphite, watercolour and pen and ink on wove paper, on an original washline mount
17.1 × 21.8 cm, 6 ¾ × 8 ⅝ in

‘Girtin’ lower left, by Thomas Girtin

Object Type
Studio Watercolour; Work after an Amateur Artist
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Durham and Northumberland

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet (TG0177)
Catalogue Number
Girtin & Loshak 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); bought by Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), 1912, £25; sold through the Leicester Galleries, London, November 1912, £47 5s; J. Palser & Sons (stock no.17189); bought by the Gallery, 15 December 1918

Exhibition History

London, 1912, no.37; Palser Gallery, 1914, no.90

About this Work

This watercolour by Girtin of Warkworth Castle, overlooking the river Coquet, was made after a drawing by the amateur artist and antiquarian James Moore (1762–99) (see the source image above), and Girtin did not visit the site himself until 1796. Girtin’s earliest patron travelled through Northumberland on the way to Scotland in the late summer of 1792 and his sketch of the bend of the river is dated 18 August. Girtin is documented as having worked for Moore between October 1792 and February 1793 for a fee of six shillings a day, producing watercolours on paper generally measuring roughly 6 ½ × 8 ½ in (16.5 × 21.5 cm), as here, and it seems likely that he began with the subjects that Moore brought back from his most recent tour (Moore, Payments, 1792–93).1  In all Girtin painted seventy or so small watercolours after Moore’s sketches, including about thirty compositions derived from drawings made on the trip to Scotland. Moore employed other artists, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804), to work up his sketches for reproduction, but it seems that the seventeen-year-old artist, who may still have been an apprentice at this date, was tasked with simply producing the best watercolours he could from the little more than functional records produced by the antiquarian. Moore’s collection of watercolours by Girtin, which eventually numbered over a hundred, remained in the ownership of his descendants until it was broken up after 1912, when this work was acquired by a great-grandson of the artist, Thomas Girtin (1874–1960).

In general Girtin made few changes to Moore’s compositions, limiting himself to inventing a suitable weather effect and adding a simple figure or two to what was essentially an architectural view. In this case, however, Moore ignored the close-up view of the castle ruins that he also sketched on the same day and instead gave Girtin the challenge of developing a coherent landscape setting for a view of the great tower of the castle in which the village, river and a wooded slope all play a prominent role. The uncharacteristic emphasis on the picturesque setting no doubt explains why Girtin chose to make a larger version of the subject at a slightly later date (TG0177) – a work that, significantly, includes a more complex set of figures and rivercraft. I suspect that Girtin thought that a picturesque river view might attract the interest of a different clientele than the close-up view typically favoured by the antiquarian market.

The same sketch by Moore also formed the basis of a composition by Dayes that is dated 1793 and that has the same dimensions as Girtin’s watercolour (see figure 1). It is possible that both artists made pencil copies of Moore’s sketch, though equally Girtin may have worked from Dayes’ lost drawing, as it is clear that the antiquarian’s compositions were a common feature of the studio at the time of his apprenticeship.

Warkworth Castle

Figure 1.
Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Warkworth Castle, 1793, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, on an original mount, 16.5 × 21.6 cm, 6 ½ × 8 ½ in. Private Collection.

Digital image courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre Photographic Archive (PA-F02880-0013) (CC BY-NC 4.0).

1792 - 1793

Warkworth Castle, from the River Coquet


by Greg Smith

Place depicted


  1. 1 The document detailing the payments made to the young Girtin by Moore is transcribed in full in the Documents section of the Archive (1792–93 – Item 1).

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