Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Mendrisio
  • A View of Mendrisio Eight Miles from Como
ca. 1781/08/24
Pencil, pen and brown ink, grey/brown wash
  • image height 284mm,
  • image length 463mm
paper watermarked with a Strasburg bend and lily and "C&I HONIG"
  • sheet, verso
  • “August the 24th 1781 / Francis Towne / No1 A View of the Lake of Lugano taken from Mendris [above, in pencil: “Mendris”] 8 miles from Como / morning light coming from the right hand”
  • in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Mendrisio, after Francis Towne, Victoria and Albert Museum
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 granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP45). On 31 March 1939 Judith Merivale sold it for £8 to Agnew’s (no.2657), where it was sold on the same day to Paul Oppé on behalf of the present owner, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (4471; Oppé 47), for £37 10s. (with two other drawings bought for Ottawa by Paul Oppé).

Associated People & Organisations

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 31 March 1939, no. 4471
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 31 March 1939, GBP 37.10, Oppé 47
Acquired on behalf of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 31 March 1939, GBP 8, no. 2657
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP45
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP45
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours & Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1934, no. 77
Paul Oppé, 'Drawings at the National Gallery of Canada', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs: London, 1941, p. 56
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 89


Watercolour and ink on paper

Mendrisio, at the foot of Monte Generoso, is a town halfway on the road between Bissone at the south-east end of Lake Lugano and the town of Como.

A copy of this drawing was made by John White Abbott (FT826). John “Warwick” Smith also drew the same subject (Tate).

Towne appears to have inscribed this drawing with the title of FT344 before correcting his mistake—a sign, perhaps, that these were adjacent sheets in a sketchbook at the point the inscriptions were made.

by Richard Stephens

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