Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • On the Topsham Road
Pen and ink, and blue/grey wash
  • image height 111mm,
  • image width 184mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “On the Topsham Topsham Road, Devonshire / 1813 / Francis Towne”
  • in ink
Part of
  • 1812-1815 Sketchbook
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records (image)


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 within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751. Probably the book was among the “two small sketchbooks and five small drawings late in date” that Judith Merivale sold to Squire Gallery in 1945 for £50. By early 1946 it was owned by the Fine Art Society who sold it on 21 or 23 January for £26 5s. to Agnew’s (no.4407), where on 1 March 1946 it was bought by Sir John Heathcoat Amory, Bt (1894–1972), who sold it back to Agnew’s (no.7897) on 31 January 1955, where it was bought by Bruce Howe for £42. In 1973 it was given anonymously to the current owner, Rhode Island School of Design (73.204.48).

Associated People & Organisations

Rhode Island Museum of Art, School of Design, Providence, 1973, 73.204.48
Dr Bruce Howe, GBP 42
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 31 January 1953, no.7897
Sir John Heathcoat Amory (1894 - 1972), 1 March 1946
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, January 1946, GBP 26.5s, no.4407
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1946
[?] Squire Gallery, London, 1945
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Winter Exhibition of Early English Watercolours and Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1946, no. 133 as 'On the Topsham Road, 1813'


This is presumably the road along the Exe estuary between Exeter and Topsham.1 Evidently Towne wrote his inscription and crossed it out, thinking he had made a mistake, only to add it back again once he realised it was correct. This circumstance, and the quite neat grey ink hand, indicate that the inscription was made some time after the drawing was made.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.7b.

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