Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Rydal Water looking towards Grasmere
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour, gum
  • image width 298mm,
  • image length 564mm
five sheets
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower centre
  • “F.Towne / delt 1786”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rydal Water looking towards Grasmere Westmoreland / Drawn on the spot by Francis Towne / [“August 11th. 1786” scratched out] ½ past 7 O clock / The sky a Clear warm light / mountains a solemn purple tint / the Lake reflecting the sky, the / Sun in the picture”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources


Untraced until bequeathed by Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868–1958) to the current owner, the British Museum (1958.7.12.386). Quite possibly it is BP146 Rydal Water sold in August 1936 or February 1937 by Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945) to Squire Gallery for £23 2s. This drawing may well be the otherwise untraced Rydal Water that Wilcox mentions as having been sold at Christie’s on 14 August 1942 and measuring 11 x 22¼ in. (279 x 565 mm).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1958, 1958,0712.386
Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868 - 1958)
Christie's, London, London, 14 August 1942
[?] Squire Gallery, London, GBP 23 2s
[?] Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP146
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 68, 76 or 90 as 'Rydal Water'
Light, time, legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome, British Museum, 2016
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 112


This is a view of Rydal Water with Silver How, the mountain on the western shore of Grasmere, prominent in the central distance. Towne made two other drawings of this mountain (FT520a, FT521) from somewhat different viewpoints. 

Towne has used brown ink only on the two largest sheets and there is no gum on the two smallest sheets.

by Richard Stephens

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