Description
Creator
Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
Title(s)
  • Landscape with Resting Man, perhaps at Canon Teign
  • Woody Landscape
Date
ca. 1770
Medium
Pen and ink, monochrome wash
Dimensions
  • image height 330mm,
  • image length 413mm
Mount
mounted by the artist
Inscription
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt”
Inscription
  • artist's mount, verso
  • inscription reported but not recorded
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Collection
Catalogue Number
FT028
Description Sources
1951 catalogue; Fine Art Society records (image)

Provenance

Untraced prior to 19 January 1946, when it was sold by the Fine Art Society for £78 15s. to Guy D. Harvey Samuel, who still owned it in 1951 (the FAS stock book recording their acquisition of this work was missing on my visit in 2006). In 1961 it was on sale again at the Fine Art Society (no.6914), which sold it for £650 to Walter Augustus Brandt (1902–1978), in whose collection it remained in 1962, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Untraced
Walter Augustus Brandt (1902 - 1978), London, 1961, GBP 650
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1961, no. 6914
Guy D. Harvey Samuel, London, 19 January 1946, GBP 78 15s
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 19 January 1946
Exhibition History
Winter Exhibition of Early English Watercolours and Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1946, no. 29 as 'Woody Landscape'
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 48 as 'Woody Landscape'
Spring Exhibition of Early English Water-colours, Fine Art Society, 1960, no. 123 as 'Woody Landscape'
Bibliography
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 150
Iolo Aneurin Williams, 'English Watercolours', The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, No. 51: London, 1946, p. 75

Comment

This work is datable to the first half of the 1770s. The bush at the centre of the picture is comparable with the foliage on the tree at Staplehill Farm, dated 1773 (FT034). Like Staplehill, this picture is clearly complete and ready for display, rather than a sketch to be used to create a studio work. The location is unclear, although it has certain similarities to Towne’s depiction of Canonteign (FT031).

The presence and use of the very neatly drawn figure—typical of the 1770s drawing style of John Hamilton Mortimer’s Salvator Rosa-inspired “banditti”—give the piece an ambitiousness beyond the limits of its overt subject matter. In contrast to other figures in Towne’s early works, the man is not a bit-part, decorative addition to the scene, but the central element. Towne was borrowing some of Rosa’s solitary and gloomy vision for his depiction of a domestic landscape. It may be that the figure here was added by another artist, a common practice in the 1770s, as it is not typical of Towne’s weak figure drawing (for instance in FT200 and FT789).

Reviewing the 1946 Fine Art Society exhibition for the Burlington Magazine, Iolo Williams noted this work among a group by Towne: “The most notable of the drawings by Towne is a large Woody Landscape in monochrome save for a single pale coloured figure in the foreground, the remainder are mostly late examples, weaker than his early work but often with considerable charm of line and colour.”

 

by Richard Stephens

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