This is a previously untraced drawing by Girtin; two smaller versions of the subject are listed in Girtin and Loshak. It was originally thought to depict Otley, before the correct identification was made.
Warwick and Kenilworth are listed in Pevsner as "the two major castles of Warwickshire". The Great Hall occupies the west side of the inner court, and is built above a vaulted undercroft. Erected in 1391, it was part of the Earl of Lancaster's ambitious reconfiguration of the castle: the keep and the outer court were established nearly two centuries earlier. Pevsner wrote of John of Gaunt's Great Hall: "[it is] the climax of military as well as domestic architecture in Warwickshire...being, next to Westminster Hall, undoubtedly the most splendid English hall of before 1400."
Girtin and his friend James Moore, the antiquarian, toured the Midlands in 1794. Girtin sketched many local sites including the cathedrals at Lincoln and Peterborough. This drawing, grand in scale and densely worked, is presumably based on a sketch Girtin executed on the tour, and can be dated roughly to 1795-6. It is the most sophisticated and complete of Girtin's renditions of the subject. The smaller of the two comparables, no. 122 in Girtin and Loshak, is similar in style to Moore and is likely to be based on his friend's work. The Ruins of the Castle Hall, Kenilworth, now at the Ashmolean, no. 132 (op. cit.) is freer and was probably executed on the tour.
We would like to thank Susan Morris for her assistance with this catalogue entry.