Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Near the Source of the Rhine
ca. 1781/08/29
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, grey wash
  • image height 156mm,
  • image length 209mm
the paper has bookbinding marks along its top edge and is watermarked with part of a coat of arms
  • sheet, recto, right
  • “strong warm lights”
  • sheet, recto, upper left
  • “snow”
  • verso
  • “near the source of the Rhine / light from the left hand / Alps descending from mount Splugen / August 29th. 1781 / No.41 / Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink over pencil until “1781”, brown ink only thereafter
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image); Bower 1998


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 (BP65). In November 1935 Judith Merivale sold it to Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2114) for £15 with five other drawings (FT306, FT328, FT335, FT336, FT350), and his descendants sold it in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery (T08558).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T08558
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, November 1935, GBP 15, no.2114
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP65
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP65
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 27
Peter Bower, 'Drawing Paper in the 18th and 19th centuries: Papers from the Opp_ Collection, part 2', The Quarterly Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians: [?] London, 1998, p. 18
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 158


The drawing depicts much the same view as another drawing Towne made on the same day, FT359. A copy by John White Abbott (FT828) contains a top portion which has been lost from this drawing, but which is on the verso of no.40 in the series, now at Rhode Island School of Design (FT331). According to Bower,1 this drawing is watermarked with “part of an unidentifiable coat of arms”, which “may well be of Swiss origin”.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Bower 1998, p.18.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.