Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Great Fulford
Pencil, pen and black ink
  • image width 275mm,
  • image length 488mm
paper has a vertical crease mark down the centre
  • verso
  • "August 8 1776"
Object Type
Outline only

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White (1744–1825) of Exeter, on whose death it passed to Towne’s residuary legatee John Herman Merivale (1779–1844) and his successors. Merivale’s granddaughter Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) inherited the drawing ca. 1915. It was acquired on 30 September 1935, lot 29, for £1 8s. 6d. (with FT055, FT146, FT564) by Paul Oppé (1878–1957). Oppé’s granddaughter sold it in 1996 with the rest of Paul Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery, London (T08553).

Associated People & Organisations

Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923)
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957)
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 5
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 5
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148


1804, engraving

Great Fulford, seat of the Fulfords since the twelfth century, is just outside Dunsford, around ten miles east of Exeter.1 The lake and surrounding plantation were created in the 1760s by Sir John Fulford (1736–1780), 1st Bt, whose nephew Baldwin inherited the estate and later remodelled the house.2 According to family tradition related by Wilcox,3 Baldwin destroyed all images of its earlier appearance, so any drawing or painting that Towne may have made as a result of this drawing would not have survived. Nonetheless, as the drawing is clearly one created to guide Towne in making a finished picture (for example, compare with FT055 of Ugbrooke), it is likely that such a picture was made.

Towne, evidently unsure of his perspective, has made the two sides of the square house appear flat. What is most noticeable in the drawing is that in 1776 he is already using tight, flat foliage in a style more characteristic of the large preparatory drawings made at the end of the decade (such as FT136, FT138).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 'Benjamin Donn, A Map of the County of Devon, Devon and Cornwall Record Society and the University of Exeter: Exeter 1965, plate 6b
  2. 2 The alterations in both house and garden are visible in a print after Hubert Cornish: Great Fulford House, 1804 (West Country Studies Library, Exeter).
  3. 3 'Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p.41

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