Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Lake Windermere
  • Windermere
  • A View of Windermere, Westmorland
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 152mm,
  • image length 470mm
two sheets
(?)mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt 1786 / No.27”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “A View of Windermere, Westmorland-August the 16th 1786, drawn by Francis Towne 4 O’Clock in the afternoon. No.27”
Object Type

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 granddaughter Frances Solly (b.1858) inherited the drawing (in ca. 1921–1932) probably from her sister Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) and sold it to Walker’s Galleries, where it was bought on 22 June 1948 by Gilbert Davis (1899–1983), from whom it was acquired in 1959 by the current owner, Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery, San Marino (59.55.1274).

Associated People & Organisations

Huntington Library, San Marino, California, San Marino, 1959, 59.55.1274
Walker's Galleries, London
Gilbert Davis (1899 - 1983), 22 June 1948
Frances Ann Laura Solly (1858 - alive in 1932), 1923
Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
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. 79 as 'Windermere'
unidentified exhibition, Walker's Galleries, 1948, no. 128
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 26
unidentified exhibition, Huntington Library and Art Gallery, 1959
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 139
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 168
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, pp. 113-114


This is a view looking south down Windermere from Rayrigg, showing Adelaide Hill in the central mid-distance. It became one of the most celebrated views of Windermere for eighteenth-century travellers, popularised by “Mr Young”, whose rapturous description of the view was incorporated into West’s travel guide as Station V:

You return to the village [of Bowness], and taking the by-road to the turnpike, mount the hill without turning your head, till you almost gain the top, where you will be struck with astonishment at the prospect spread before your feet, which if not the most superlative view that Nature can exhibit, she is more fertile in beauties than the reach of my imagination will allow me to conceive.1

As Wilcox observes, the right third of the right page was completed by Towne separately from the rest. An engraving of Joseph Farington’s version of this view was published in ca. 1789.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Quoted Clarke 1789, p.141.
  2. 2 W. Byrne and T. Medland after J. Farington, Winderemere above Rarig, ca. 1789 (Wordsworth Trust).

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