Description
Creator
Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
Title(s)
  • Fort Olda with Part of the Abbey, Tavistock
  • Fort Olda, Tavistock
  • Tavistock – Fort Olda with Part of the Abbey
Date
1815/08/29
Medium
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
Dimensions
  • image height 140mm,
  • image width 229mm
Inscription
  • sheet, recto
  • on the bridge: “s”
Inscription
  • sheet, verso
  • “Fort Olda with Part of the Abbey No.4 3–4 o’clock August 29. 1815”
  • and signed
Part of
  • 1815 Sketchbook
Object Type
Watercolour

Collection
Catalogue Number
FT768
Description Sources
Examination; Sotheby's records (image); Agnew's records

Provenance

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 as part of a sketchbook containing FT765 to FT786, which they gave to their cousin Mary Ann Loveband (b.1865, alive in 1951), who sold the book to Agnew’s on 17 May 1938 for £60. On 19 January 1939 Agnew’s (no.2690) sold this drawing for £10 to D. Cuthbert, who, or whose heirs, sold it at Christie’s on 11 November 1958, lot 171 (a pair with FT771), for £120 the pair jointly to the Fine Art Society and Agnew’s (Agnew’s no.J9532, Fine Art Society no.6686). On 16 December 1959 Agnew’s sold its half share to the Fine Art Society, where it was bought by Hugh G. Balfour, who sold it at Sotheby’s on 7 July 1965, lot 55, for £420 to Agnew’s (no.5419) on behalf of a client. It was on sale again at Agnew’s in 1989 and was sold at Sotheby’s on 10 November 1994, lot 121, for £2,400, whereafter it is untraced. It may well have been sold at Bearne’s on 1 August 1994, judging from a label that was on the back of the frame in 1994 (the frame also bore labels of the Manning Gallery and of John Spink at 14 Darlan Road). A stray note relating to the provenance suggests that this drawing was sold at Sotheby’s on 19 April 1961, lot 23, to Gourlay for £280, though it does not make sense to have been sold then, as other records indicate it was in the ownership of Hugh Balfour at the time.

Associated People & Organisations

Untraced
Private Collection, 10 November 1994, GBP 2400
Sotheby's, London, London, 10 November 1994, lot 121
[?] Bearne's, Exeter, 1 August 1994
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 1989
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 7 July 1965, no.5419
Acquired on behalf of a client.
Sotheby's, London, London, 7 July 1965, lot 55
Hugh G. Balfour, July 1965
[?] Gourlay, 19 April 1961
[?] Sotheby's, London, London, 19 April 1961, GBP 280, lot 23
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 11 November 1958, GBP 120, no.6686
Bought in a pair with FT771 jointly with the Agnew's.
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 11 November 1958, GBP 120, no.J9532
Bought in a pair with FT771 jointly with the Agnew's.
Christie's, London, London, 11 November 1958, lot 171
D. Cuthbert, 19 January 1939, GBP 10
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 17 May 1938, GBP 60, no.2690
Mary Ann Loveband (1865 - alive in 1951)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited as part of a sketchbook containing FT765 to FT786.
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited as part of a sketchbook containing FT765 to FT786.
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
66th Annual Exhibition of Water Colour and Pencil Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1939, no. 184 as 'Tavistock (1815)'
Thirty-Ninth Exhibition of Early English Water-Colours and Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1959, no. 40 as 'Fort Olda, Tavistock'

Comment

Fort Olda has not been identified, but (this suggestion from Professor Sam Smiles) it may relate to Ordulph, the tenth-century figure whom legend credits with the foundation of Tavistock Abbey and whose sarcophagus and tomb were of interest to eighteenth-century visitors to the site.

by Richard Stephens

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