Claude Lorrain Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A Memory of Lord Ashburnham’s Claude
ca. 1786
Grey and brown washes
  • image height 208mm,
  • image length 267mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “From Memory, of a Claude / which Lord Ashburnham has”
  • in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it passed to Towne’s residuary legatee John Herman Merivale (1779–1844) and his successors. Merivale’s granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP259). In June 1938 Judith Merivale sold it for £1 10s. to Rembrandt Gallery. By 1944 it was on sale at the Fine Art Society, where on 2 October 1944 it was bought for 18 guineas by Leonard Duke (1889–1971; no.D570), who sold it to Colnaghi (no.A15360) on 25 March 1948 for £15. On 16 April 1948 Colnaghi sold it to Squire Gallery for £29 10s. and by 1950 it was owned by Margaret Pilkington (1891–1974), who gave it that year to the current owner, the Whitworth Art Gallery (D.1950.2).

Associated People & Organisations

Manchester Museum & the Whitworth, University of Manchester, Manchester, 1950, D.1950.2
Mrs Pilkington, 1950
Squire Gallery, London, 16 April 1948
P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 25 March 1948, GBP 29.10s, no.A15360
Leonard Duke (1889 - 1971), 2 October 1944, GBP 15, no.D570
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 2 October 1944, GBP 18gns
Rembrandt Gallery, June 1938, GBP 1 10s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP259
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP259
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816


This is a version of View of Naxos with Ariadne and Bacchus by Claude Lorraine (1604/5–1684) now at the Arnot Art Museum in New York. 

A drawing of this composition was published within Richard Earlom’s Liber Veritatis in 1777, but Towne’s inscription makes clear that he was drawing from memory of the actual painting. In Towne’s lifetime the picture was owned by Humphry Morice (1723–1785) of Werrington Park, shortly after whose death it was sold with his collection of forty pictures to the 2nd Lord Ashburnham (1724–1812) for £4,000. Although Morice’s collection was displayed in his Chiswick house, he was MP for Launceston between 1750 and 1780 and Towne knew Werrington Park well as early as 1767. It is likely, therefore, that Towne gained knowledge of the Claude during Morice’s ownership of it. 

In his manuscript catalogue Leonard Duke expressed uncertainty about the date of this work: “A. P. Oppé thinks it is a late drawing, but I do not feel sure of that. . . . A. P. Oppé assures me that this is in fact a late drawing by Towne.”1 The likelihood is that the drawing dates from 1786 or later and Towne’s diversion from the picture in much of the left foreground might suggest that he was sketching on the basis of a fairly old memory. Compositionally the drawing has echoes of Towne’s view of Capri, which was among his most popular continental compositions (FT240, FT414, FT451, FT558).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings Library.

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