Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Barle River
No date
Pen and ink, blue, grey, and violet washes
  • recto
  • “North Moor, Brewer Castle, dark Woods”
  • in ink
  • sheet, verso
  • “1st Finished for Sir Thomas Acland, to have 8 guineas by agreement”
  • in pencil
Object Type
Monochrome wash

The Barle River
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Paul Oppé records


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 (1852–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP198). In December 1935 Judith Merivale sold it to Sir Francis Dyke Acland, Bt (1874–1939), for £7 10s. with FT442 and FT443. It is thereafter untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Sir Francis Dyke Acland (1874 - 1939), December 1935, GBP 7.10s
Acquired with FT442 and FT443
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP198
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP198
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816


The River Barle flowed past Pixton near Dulverton, an estate of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bt (1752–1794), on the south-eastern edge of Exmoor. Pixton was one of three estates that came to the Acland family through the marriage of Sir Thomas’s father to Elizabeth Dyke (the other two being Tetton and Holnicote); Dulverton and Holnicote featured some of the region’s best stag-hunting country.

The version of this drawing commissioned by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland is FT552, dated 1790.

Paul Oppé mentioned the three drawings commissioned by Sir Thomas Acland in passing in a note describing three other drawings (see FT436). Oppé viewed this drawing, with FT442 and FT443, a second time (probably after its sale in 1935), then calling it The River Bale and noting inscriptions. Oppé’s full note reads:

1st Finished for Sir Thomas Acland, to have 8 guineas by agreement (pencil) The Bale river, minute pen. Curve of river below wooded hills, seen from above with tops of trees as foreground. Very fine ink outline. Two washes of grey blue & a third violet on near trees. Moors to almost top of paper. Ink inscr. North Moor. Brewer Castle, dark woods etc.1 

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.