Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View from the Hill above the Lake at Peamore
Pen and black ink, grey wash
  • image width 264mm,
  • image length 419mm
vertical fold mark at centre of the page, watermarked with a fleur de lis design and "VDL"
  • sheet, verso
  • “A View from the hill above the Lake in Peamore Park Sept 23rd 1775 No4 [. . .] 62[. . .]”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Notebooks and papers of Paul Oppé (1878-1957), private collection

Information at the Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Archives of Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd

'Scott-Elliot' catalogue, Prints and Drawings R


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it reverted 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 (BP176). On 28 January 1937 Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.2284) for £30 with FT038, FT039, FT042, FT287, FT379 and FT438, where it was acquired for £9 on 1 June 1939 by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2183). It remains in a private collection.

Associated People & Organisations

Thomas Agnew & Sons
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957)
Private Collection
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
65th Annual Exhibition of Water Colour and Pencil Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1938, no. 109
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 2
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 39
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148


According to Swete, “the chief Beauty of Peamore lies in the undulating form of its grounds, rising and falling in the regular alternation of hills and dales”,1 which are aspects of landscape that Towne shows in this drawing. Here Towne is at the peak of a hill—revealing Exeter Cathedral left of centre in the background and the River Exe flowing into the estuary from left to right—whereas in another, dated 26 September 1775 (FT061), the view looks upwards towards a hilltop. Two other drawings from Peamore’s hills are known, dated 1778 (FT144) and 1787 (FT544). 

This drawing, with its strong pen line and bare wash shading, is clearly one created to guide Towne (or a client) in making (or choosing to commission) a finished picture (for example, compare with FT055, of Ugbrooke). Another such sketch, made on 17 August 1775, resulted in a commission completed the following year (FT063), which was probably one of at least three commissioned. As the numbers on FT061 and FT062 suggest, a large series of drawings once existed from which Towne’s client would have been able to choose. 

In a 1992 valuation of the Oppé collection2 Sotheby’s described a framed “Exeter – Distant View” in pen and black ink and wash and measuring 318 x 419 mm, while at the same time omitting the Peamore drawing from their list. But when in July 1995 they drew up a further list (an addenda list to Miss Scott Elliott’s catalogue of the Oppé collection), both the Peamore drawing and (under a sub-heading “Group IV Retentions”) the “Exeter – Distant View (NN)” were described (NN = No Number, in other words not described in the Scott Elliot catalogue, which is organized around a numbered sequence of drawings).3 However, on further investigation, it seems this was a mistake and the two drawings—of Peamore and of a distant view of Exeter—are in fact the same drawing.


by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 <i>Travel in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John</i>, eds. Todd Gray and Margery Rowe, Devon Books in association with Halgrove: Tiverton, 1997, vol 1, p.56
  2. 2 Private collection.
  3. 3 A copy is in the Print Room library at Tate Britain.

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