Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Ambleside
Pencil, pen and brown ink
  • image width 155mm,
  • image length 240mm
  • sheet, recto
  • “white” and “brown” in pencil
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.1 Ambleside August 7. 1786”
  • in ink
Part of
  • Partially-disbound sketchbook sold by Judith Merivale to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery
Object Type
Outline only

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Paul Oppé records; Sotheby’s records; Witt Library (image)


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 by May 1915 within a partially disbound sketchbook containing FT455, FT462, FT470, FT471, FT472, FT475, FT476, FT477, FT478, FT480, FT494, FT495, FT496. In February 1945 Judith Merivale sold the book to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery for £25. The drawing is thereafter untraced until it was offered for sale at Sotheby’s on 10 March 1988, lot 150, and again at Sotheby’s on 25 January 1989, lot 53; in 1997 it was in a “Private Collection, England”.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection
Sotheby's, London, London, 25 January 1989, lot 53
Sotheby's, London, London, 10 March 1988, lot 150
Squire Gallery, February 1945, GBP 25
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 109


In his notes on the 1786 sketchbook Paul Oppé describes this drawing thus: “foreground study, rocks & plants. brown ink over pencil. Two figures (do [ditto, i.e. brown ink over pencil]) notes white. brown of colour in pencil.”1 

Within the 1945 rump of the sketchbook it was the very first drawing, before FT462. There are two Ambleside drawings numbered 1: this and FT454. Evidently Towne decided not to open his series of Cumberland views with this modest study.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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