Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • In Peamore Park
ca. 1786
  • image width 145mm,
  • image length 190mm
mounted by the artist
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “In Peamore Park in the / County of Devon the seat of Rich. Hippis. Coxe Esqr. / drawn on the spot by / Francis Towne”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Sotheby’s (image); Examination


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 (BP213, Peamore [trees coloured]; the drawing is marked “2133” with the first 3 struck out). According to Paul Oppe’s notes, the drawing was not dated, but Judith Merivale’s transcription of the Barton Place catalogue gives a date of 1796. The drawing was sold for £2 in June 1938 to the Rembrandt Gallery. It is thereafter untraced until 29 May 1944, when it was sold by the Fine Art Society (no.3964) for £21 to Joseph Hawksley Elliot of Sheffield (d. ca. 1978), whose daughter sold it at Christie’s on 14 March 1978, lot 88, to Michael Spratt for £750. It was later owned by H. A. Molins, whose estate sold it at Sotheby’s on 22 November 2007, lot 131, for £11,875 including fees to the art-dealer Katrin Bellinger, from whom in 2009 it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Acc. no.2009.342).

Associated People & Organisations

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2009, no.2009.342
Katrin Bellinger, London, 22 November 2007, GBP 11875
Sotheby's, London, London, 22 November 2007, lot 131
H. A. Molins
Michael Spratt, London, 14 March 1978, GBP 750
Christie's, London, London, 14 March 1978, lot 88
Joseph Hawksley Elliot (1884 - 1978), Sheffield, 29 May 1944, GBP 21
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 29 May 1944, no.3964
Rembrandt Gallery, June 1938, GBP 2
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP213
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP213
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. 12, 13, or 14, as 'By the ditto [Quarry] in ditto [Peamore Park])'


This drawing and another (FT025) are views of the small lake at Peamore, an estate near Exeter where Towne and Abbott sketched throughout their lives. Perhaps the reds in this watercolour mark this as an autumn scene but, beyond that, these Peamore views are difficult to locate in time.

circa 1790s

To give the argument in favour of a later dating, the watercolour has a close affinity with a Werrington view dated 1796 (FT588), and there are points of comparison with other works of a broadly similar date. The densely grouped tree trunks are also seen in the left part of an Acland commission of 1790 (FT556), the tight hatchings and stiffness of the trees resembles somewhat the Kensington Gardens of 1797 (FT591), and a landscape dated 1800 (FT622) shares something of this work’s interest in wandering branches. Most of Towne’s experiments in pure watercolour date from the late 1780s and 1790s. Possibly the drawing catalogued here is associated with other mounted views of Peamore of the same size, none of which is outlined in pen and one of which is dated 1787 (FT391, FT544, FT545); there are also similarities with an undated study at Werrington (FT589a), which is surely a fairly late work. Leonard Duke, who owned FT026, implied that he believed it to have been influenced by John Sell Cotman’s Greta drawings of 1805, though that seems unlikely. That aside, Duke’s Peamore view does share with another Peamore view, dated 1804 (FT629), its basic composition and effects, though the two differ greatly in technique (both are dark and dense woodland views in which tree trunks provide the structure, and the sky is visible only piecemeal through the trees, whose tops are cut off from view).

The problem with a late dating is that the man Towne mentions in his inscription, Richard Hippisley Coxe, died in August 1786 and, although it is impossible to say how soon Towne became aware of this, it surely places the work to 1786 at the latest.

by Richard Stephens

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