Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A Scene on the Banks of the Dee
  • On the Dee
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 300mm,
  • image length 484mm
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked 'CK' and measuring 415 x 595mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “Francis Towne delt 1777 / No.40”
  • in dark brown ink over a lighter brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.40./ A scene on the Banks of the Dee / drawn by Francis Towne / [over erased “July 17th. 1777” in dark brown ink is] on the Spot 1777”
  • in brown ink, neat hand
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Agnew’s records; Museum records (image)


On 11 January 1961 this drawing was sold by Mrs L. S. Robinson to Agnew’s (no.1031), and on 8 March 1961 Agnew’s sold it for £700 to Paul Mellon (1907–1999), who gave it to the current owner, the Yale Center for British Art (B1977.14.6292; gift to Yale, December 1977). Probably this drawing had a Merivale provenance, as both the Yale and Agnew’s files assert. Furthermore, this drawing was acquired by Mellon at Agnew’s on the same day as four others formerly owned by Dr Walter Herman Hodgson Merivale. Might Mrs Robinson, therefore, have been a proxy for Merivale?

Associated People & Organisations

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, B1977.14.6292
Mr Paul Mellon (1907 - 1999), London, 8 March 1961, GBP 700
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 11 January 1961, no.1031
L. S. Robinson, 1961
[?] John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
[?] James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 27, 28, 29 or 43 as 'Banks of the Dee'
An Exhibition of English Drawings and Water Colours from British Collections, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1962, no. 86
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 108


The castle of Dinas Bran is visible on the hilltop partially obscured by the central group of trees. Four drawings of the banks of the Dee were discussed by Oppé,1 and this may qualify as a fifth.

This drawing is animated by the cattle coming down to the water’s edge. There are many signs of it having been worked up later in life, notably the dark brown gum, the grey overworked skies, and presumably the signature that Towne overwrote at a late date. The erasure at the back of the mount—or rather the overwritten date—suggests that it was done at the time of this revision. There is an old vertical fold at the centre of the drawing, which existed at the time Towne laid the drawing onto its mount.


by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Oppé 1920, p.108.

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