Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Landscape
ca. 1770 - 1780
Pencil, pen and ink, grey wash
  • image width 165mm,
  • image length 229mm
  • sheet, recto
  • colour notes “L”, “L”, “W”, “T”, and “T”
  • in pen
  • sheet, verso
  • “Frs. Towne”
  • in ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object

Information at the Witt Library, Courtauld Institute of Art

Information supplied by Christie's from the archives of Spink & Sons

Information at Amersham Auction Rooms


Untraced until 29 July 1955 when sold by J. H. Price of Portobello Road, London, to Spink, as Landscape with Rider, ink and wash, 6/5 x 9 in. Spink sold it on 1 November 1955 for £22 to Mrs William Wycliffe Spooner; Bury noted it in 1962 in the collection of Mr and Mrs Spooner (William Spooner’s dates are 1882–1967, his widow survived him). It was on sale at Appleby Bros in 1965, whereafter it is untraced, although the frame has an old auction house stock number, “416SC” (probably Christie’s), and a sale, “119 Oct 11[? or 16] 69”, chalked onto it. This is probably the Dutch Estuary, figures by a tower (since in the present study there are three figures walking on foot in front of the horseman), measuring 216 x 165 mm, sold by the estate of Walter James Redfern Turner of Solihull (1889–1945) at Sotheby’s on 1–2 June, 1948, lot 20, for £24 to the Fine Art Society, where on 22 October 1948 it was sold for £42 to Mrs C. Snowdon. It was offered for sale at the Amersham Auction Rooms, Amersham, on 7 February 2008, lot 138.

Associated People & Organisations

Amersham Auction Rooms, Amersham
Appleby Bros, London
Christie's, London
The Fine Art Society, London
Mrs Mercie Winifred Sanderson Milling (later Spooner) (1902 - after 1967)
J. H. Price (active 1955)
Mrs C. Snowdon (active 1948)
Sotheby's, London
Spink & Son, London
William Wycliffe Spooner (1882 - 1967)
Walter James Redfern Turner (1889 - 1945)
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Early English Watercolours, Appleby Brothers, London, 1965, no. 11, as 'Landscape with horseman, tower and buildings in distance'
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 150


This drawing is a study for a painting of the 1770s (FT023), with a sparseness characteristic of early studies for oil. Its purpose is to set out the basic layers of the picture’s composition and, as such, Towne shows little care for details like the leaves foreground right—marked in with only a few lines to secure their position—and the awkward relationship between the two foreground trees, which in oil are distinguished from one another far more subtly than Towne has attempted in pen and wash.

by Richard Stephens

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