Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Study of Trees
No date
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 367mm,
  • image length 224mm
paper has a horizontal crease mark across its centre
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt. 1800”
  • sheet, recto
  • at foot of right tree: “bush” and, a little further up, “G.Moss”
Object Type

Trees at Peamore, after Francis Towne
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 1993 Royal Academy 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 (BP242). In April 1930 Judith Merivale sold it to Norman Darnton Lupton (1875–1953) of Hyde Crook, Dorchester, Dorset, for £12 (with FT498). Agnes Lupton (1874–1950) and Norman Lupton bequeathed it to its present owner, Leeds City Art Gallery (13.204/53).

Associated People & Organisations

Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, 1953, 13.204/53
Agnes Lupton (1874 - 1950), Dorchester, April 1930, GBP 12
Norman Darnton Lupton (1875 - 1953), Dorchester, April 1930, GBP 12
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP242
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP242
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Early English Water Colours, Leeds City Art Gallery, 8 October 1958 to 23 November 1958, no. 102
Watercolours and Drawings from the City Art Gallery, Leeds, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1960, no. 60
The Lupton Collection, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1972, no. 76
The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880, Royal Academy of Arts, 1993, no. 276
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 125
Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds Art Calendar, No. 26: Leeds, 1954, p. 12
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 132
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 138


This is a study of beech trees at Peamore near Exeter, the location identified from a copy made in 1802 by John White Abbott (FT836), for whom the tree was a repeated object of study (see figs.836a and 836b). 

Paul Oppé’s note of three tree studies from Barton Place reads: “242–4. Trees on bad paper. Very delicate outline & leaves near to Downman. Pretty colour grey, green & blue. very dainty & careful. Not lurid but transparent and strong. Crumble outline in two like Dulwich sketch book. Quite flat. Thin Whatman paper.” The Barton Place catalogue describes BP242, the drawing catalogued here, as “Trees 14⅜ x 8¾ [365 x 222 mm] 1800” and brackets the other two drawings as if to suggest that they share its dimensions, which makes sense if Paul Oppé is describing paper common to all three. In another note Oppé compares FT629 with these three drawings: “Much pen outline of foliage in trees & undergrowth like the 3 of 1800”; and elsewhere Oppé (who was then unaware of John White Abbott’s copy of this drawing that locates FT624 at Peamore) suggests that the trees were in Hampstead, writing: “The Hampstead trees – 3 – Downman – no loss of power.” Oppé was no doubt thinking of Dowman’s studies of trees in his own collection, now at the Tate. Oppé’s mention of a Dulwich sketchbook is a reference to two drawings Towne made there in 1812 (FT734, FT735). The other two drawings in the group of three are perhaps FT632 and FT633, late tree studies of the same size as this work.

In his article Oppé describes not three but “four drawings of trees, probably about 1800 . . . exceedingly dainty and careful studies in pretty transparent colouring.”1 However, unless he had miscounted, he was probably describing not these but four others (FT636, FT637, FT638, FT639).


by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Oppé 1920, p.125.

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