Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Denbigh Castle
Pen and ink, watercolour
  • image width 216mm,
  • image length 277mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne delt. 1777 No.36”
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.36 Denbigh Castle July 16th[?] 1777 drawn on the spot by Francis Towne”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.36 A View of Denbigh Castle North Wales / Drawn on the spot by / Francis Towne”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Marble Hill catalogue (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 (BP118) and by 1932 it had been given or sold to their cousin Reginald Merivale (1852–1937). By 1951 it was owned by Colonel Ransom Pickard (1867–1953), who presented it that year to the current owner, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (Inv. 79/1951).

Associated People & Organisations

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, 1951, 79/1951
Colonel Ransom Pickard (1867 - 1953), 1951
Reginald Merivale (1852 - 1937), 1932
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP118
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP118
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. 31 as 'Denbigh Castle'
Loan Exhibition of Works by Early Devon Painters Born Before the Year 1800, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1932, no. 112
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 78a
Treasures of the Exeter Museums: Centenary Exhibition, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1969, no. 128
Paintings and Drawings by Francis Towne and John White Abbott in the collection of Exeter Museums and Art Gallery, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1971, no. 4
Early Devon Painters: Forty Years On, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1972, no. 53
Francis Towne & John White Abbott: Paintings and Watercolours from the Exeter Museums and Art Gallery, Marble Hill House, 1973, no. 4
Jane C. Baker, Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, Exeter Museums: Exeter, 1978, p. 119
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 133
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 107
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 48
Henry Penruddocke Wyndham, A Tour Through Monmouthshire and Wales Made in the Months of June and July 1774 and in the months of June, July and August 1777: Salisbury, 1781, p. 162


Denbigh is a town about halfway between Conwy and Chester.

The town of Denbigh, which is large, populous and decently built, extends itself along the declivity of a lofty hill, on the highest point of which are the ruins of a strong castle, founded by Henry Lacy, earl of Lincoln, in the time of Edward I. The principal gateway is a large and beautiful Gothic arch, over which, the statue of the founder is represented in a niche, sitting in his robes.1 

Towne has depicted this arch with its niche, which was evidently the main point of interest for visitors, as there are two other examples, from the 1770s by Moses Griffith and of 1791 by Joseph Farington.2

1791, watercolour

Figure 1.
Joseph Farington, Denbigh Castle, 1791, watercolour

Digital image courtesy of Bolton Library and Museum Service, 1959.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wyndham 1781, p.162.
  2. 2 Moses Griffith, Denbigh Castle, 1770s (National Library of Wales), and Joseph Farington, Denbigh Castle, 1791 (Garlick 1977).

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