Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Rydal Fell and Loughrigg
ca. 1786/08
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour, scratching out
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 469mm
two sheets of laid paper
  • sheet, verso
  • centre top of left sheet, “Luffrigg” in small pencil; top left of right sheet, “No7” in small brown ink; top centre of right sheet, “B Rydal Cragg or” in small brown ink over pencil
Part of
  • Partially-disbound sketchbook sold by Judith Merivale to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 1994 Brussels catalogue (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 partially disbound sketchbook containing FT455, FT462, FT470, FT471, FT472, FT475, FT476, FT477, FT478, FT480, FT494, FT495, FT496. In February 1945 Judith Merivale sold it to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery for £25. The drawing was later owned by Milling’s widow, Mrs William Wycliffe Spooner, who retained it in 1962 (William Spooner’s dates, 1882–1967). In 1974 it was given by Viscount Astor to the current owner, the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (1974.70). The museum records also note that Stephen Somerville owned the drawing at some point (presumably he sold it to Astor?).

Associated People & Organisations

Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, New York, 1974, 1974.7
Viscount Astor, 1974
[?] Stephen Somerville, London
William Wycliffe Spooner (1882 - 1967)
Widow of H. B. Milling
Horace Bernard Milling (1898 - 1954), London, February 1945, GBP 25
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
Sketching at Home and Abroad: British landscape drawings, 1750-1850, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1992, no. 95
Gainsborough to Ruskin: British Landscape Drawings and Watercolours from the Morgan Library, Musee Communal d'Ixelles, 1994, no. 105
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 149


This is a view in Rydal Park, looking broadly west. Loughrigg Fell is on the left, and Nab Scar on the right. Silver How is in the central far distance.

This is a fine example of Towne’s crisp wash-and-pen drawing style. There is some scratching out on the far-left mountain tops, a technique Towne used to good effect also in the smaller Source of the Arveyron watercolour of 1781 (FT339). While the ink is overwhelmingly brown, there are small areas of grey ink too, such as in the far-right bottom corner, where the ground to the right of the path is defined in grey, and in the trunks and branches of the bush just right of centre foreground. Presumably Towne added these touches after the main brown-ink sketching was complete.

This drawing was in the 1786 sketchbook after an outline of Ambleside numbered 1 (FT455) and before a view of Buttermere numbered 15 (FT470). There seem to have been two Lake District works numbered 7 (also FT461). The sheets have been cut to neaten them where they join

by Richard Stephens

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