Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Poughill, near Bude, Cornwall
  • Launceston Devon Landscape
  • Launceston, Cornwall
No date
Pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 137mm,
  • image length 213mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “Pough Hill, near Bude in Cornwall” 
  • on the basis of the title it has been given when on sale
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Agnew's records (image)


Untraced until 24 July 1945, when it was bought as “Launceston Devon Landscape” by the Fine Art Society (no.4116) from Mr Ringer (however, the entry describing this transaction in the Fine Art Society stock book is crossed out). The identity of Mr Ringer is unknown, but as on the same day he seems also to have sold the Fine Art Society a drawing (61) that had recently been owned by Judith Merivale (1860–1945; see also 480), the likelihood is that this work came from the same source. It may well have been among a parcel sold from Judith Merivale’s collection in 1945 to Squire Gallery, much of which was sold shortly afterwards to the Fine Art Society, where in 1946 a “small” view of Launceston was on sale. On 27 November 1946 the drawing was sold to Lieutenant Colonel Eugene John O’Meara of Bournemouth (d.1962) and is thereafter untraced until sold—presumably by his estate—at Sotheby’s on 20 November 1963, lot 36, as Launceston, Cornwall for £270 jointly to the Fine Art Society and Agnew’s (Agnew’s no.J3656, Fine Art Society no.7856). On 20 January 1964 Agnew’s sold the drawing to a collector (see also 701), the Fine Art Society selling its share to Agnew’s retrospectively on 30 April 1964 for £175. It remained in a private collection until 1997 and was again on sale at Agnew’s the following year.

Associated People & Organisations

Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 1998
Private Collection, 20 January 1964
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 20 November 1963, GBP 270, no.J3656
Acquired jointly with the Fine Art Society
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 20 November 1963, GBP 270, no.7856
Jointly acquired with Agnew's
Sotheby's, London, London, 20 November 1963, lot 36
Listed as 'Launceston, Cornwall'
Lieutenant Colonel Eugene John O'Meara (1874 - 1962), Bournemouth, 27 November 1946
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 24 July 1945, no.4116
Mr Ringer
[?] Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
[?] Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
[?] 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. 114 as 'Launceston'
Autumn Exhibition of Early English Water-Colours and Drawings (2nd ed), Fine Art Society, 1946, no. 121
91st Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours and Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1964, no. 59 as Launceston
English Watercolours: Drawings and Small Oil Paintings: Agnew's 125th Annual Exhibition, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1998, no. 15


Towne may have added “near Bude, Cornwall” to distinguish the subject from the Poughill north of Crediton in Devon. It is undated, although it shares its size with a north Devon coastal subject (FT542) dated 1787. But for those similarities, it might pass for a very early work as well as a later one.

This drawing was exhibited at the Fine Art Society in 1946 alongside the contents of Towne’s 1812–15 sketchbook (FT733, FT734, FT735, FT736, FT737, FT738, FT739, FT740, FT741, FT742, FT743, FT744, FT745, FT746, FT747, FT748, FT749, FT750), and a handwritten note, “small sk. book”, has been written against the entry in a Fine Art Society catalogue at the National Art Library. However, the size of this drawing precludes it from being a work from the 1812–15 book. More likely it came from the otherwise unidentified “small sketchbook” sold by Judith Merivale to Squire Gallery in 1945 with the 1812–15 sketchbook and five late studies, much of which had been sold on to the Fine Art Society by 1946.

by Richard Stephens

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