Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View coming from the Belvedere to Powderham Castle
  • From the Belvedere to Powderham
Pen and ink, watercolour
  • image width 533mm,
  • image length 737mm
mounted by the artist[?]
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “From the Belvedere to Powderham, 1778”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Fine Art Society records; Witt Library (image)


Commissioned by William, 2nd Viscount Courtenay (1742–1788), and offered for sale by his son William, 3rd Viscount Courtenay, at Christie’s on 15 February 1817, lot 9, as 'A view coming from the Belvedere to Powderham Castle' to Farthing. It is thereafter untraced until sold at Sotheby’s on 31 October 1945 to the Fine Art Society (perhaps for £156 10s.). On 2 October 1946 the Fine Art Society (no.4161) sold it for £157 10s. to R. Skinner, who was probably still the owner in 1962, as then Bury stated that it was in a “private collection” and a note in Christie’s copy of this book states “Skinner”. It is untraced after 1962.

Associated People & Organisations

R. Skinner, 2 October 1946
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 31 October 1945, GBP 156 10s, no.4161
Sotheby's, London, London, 31 October 1945
Farthing, 15 February 1817
Christie's, London, London, 15 February 1817, lot 9
Listed as 'A view coming from the Belvedere to Powderham Castle'
3rd Viscount William Courtenay (1768 - 1835), Exminster, Devon, 1788
2nd Viscount William Courtenay (1742 - 1788), Exminster, Devon, 1778
Exhibition History
Autumn Exhibition of Early English Water-Colours and Drawings (2nd ed), Fine Art Society, 1946, no. 37 as 'From the Belvedere to Powderham, 1778'
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 27, 69


This is one of two surviving watercolours from the series commissioned by Courtenay (the other being FT137). The drawing shows the upper ground at Powderham, looking over the marshes to Exmouth. The Fine Art Society stock book, which records its acquisition, calls the drawing “From the Belvedere to Powderham, looking towards Exmouth”. 

The drawing must have been based on a preparatory study, although it is unclear whether the study is FT134, whose description by Paul Oppé—a “view over trees to headland Lft centre & over flat land to ships & sea R to centre Park”—is superficially consistent with this, or whether it is another work, now lost. The confusion is caused principally because no image of FT134 is known, but also because the view looking broadly south-east was used by Towne more than once (here and FT133). Towne’s 1777 oil painting of Powderham Castle (FT065) also shows much the same view.


by Richard Stephens

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