Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Snowdon
  • Mountainous Landscape
Oil on wood
  • image width 440mm,
  • image length 560mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne 1778”
Object Type
Oil painting

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Sotheby’s records (image)


Untraced until its sale at Christie’s (as View in Devonshire) on 3 July 1953, lot 161, for £71 8s. including fees to West. On 8 November 1957 it was sold by the Leonard Koetser Gallery, Duke Street, to Agnew’s (no.2206), from where on 26 August 1959 it was sold to Roger, Viscount Walberton (1922–1969, later 2nd Earl of Woolton). It was offered for sale at Sotheby’s on 26 March 2004, lot 58, when it did not sell. Given its size, medium, and subject matter, this is probably the picture Paul Oppé described in his 1920 article as “‘A mountainous landscape’ of 1778, till lately Lord Redesdale’s at Batsford Park”. That was sold by Lord Reresdale at Bruton, Knowles & Co on 2 May 1919, lot 596, to Messrs Lea & Co., Antique Dealers of St Aldate St., Gloucester. At auction in 1919 it was described as Mountainous Landscape, oil on panel, 16.75 x 21.5 in. [425 x 546 mm] and was one of two works by Towne sold (the other being FT417).

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection
Sotheby's, London, London, 26 March 2004, lot 58
Viscount Walberton, later 2nd Earl of Woolton Roger David Walberton (1922 - 1969), 26 August 1959
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 8 November 1957, no.2206
Leonard Koetser Gallery, London, 8 November 1957
Private Collection, 3 July 1953, GBP 71 8s
Sold to “West”
Christie's, London, London, 3 July 1953
lot 161
[?] Lea and Co, Gloucester, Gloucester, 2 May 1919, lot 596
[?] Bruton, Knowles & Co, Bruton, 2 May 1919, lot 596
[?] Lord Redesdale


This is a version of another oil painting (FT142) called in 1974 Looking North from the Lower Slopes of Snowdon. No study for the oils is known, and as the other version is dated 1775, the date of the preparatory sketch must remain in doubt. The two versions are very alike, both in detail and style, although in the 1778 version less of the principal tree trunk is exposed.

Paul Oppé saw the picture at Christie’s in 1953, noting: “Only notable for simple mountain forms in receding distances. Foliage in spots. Very dark brown autumn trees on R. Perhaps the foliage from his 2 Gainsborough oils.”1 

The vendor in 1919 was the inheritor from three men, any one of whom may have been Towne’s patron. Sir William Mitford, 5th Bt (1744–1827), was the vendor’s great-grandfather and the originator of Lord Redesdale’s inherited fortune; John Freeman-Mitford (1748–1830), William’s younger brother, was created Baron Redesdale in 1802 and inherited Batsford Park in 1809 from Thomas Edwards-Freeman (ca. 1726–1808). The Mitford brothers seem more likely candidates than John Freeman-Mitford, as both had a significant association with the West Country as MPs from the mid-1780s under the patronage of the Duke of Northumberland, who in 1775 had bought the Werrington Park estate from Sir Humphrey Morice, which Towne knew as early as 1767 (FT008). A 1784 Swiss watercolour also has a Batsford Park provenance (FT417).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: Towne file.

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