Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Ruins of the Great Room in Ludlow Castle, Shopshire, where Milton’s Comus was Performed
  • The Great Room in the ditto [ie Ludlow Castle], in which Milton's Masque of Comus was first performed
Pen and ink, watercolour, (?) gum
  • image width 159mm,
  • image length 197mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne delt. / 1777”
  • in ink
  • sheet, verso
  • “[. . .] the spot by Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.52 / The ruins of the great room in / Ludlow Castle. Shopshire / were Milton’s Comus was / performed, drawn on the/ [erased area] / by / Francis Towne”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Agnew’s records; Museum records (image)


Untraced until 1949, when it was on sale at Walker’s Galleries, who sold it on 4 November 1957 to Agnew’s (no.9003) for £60. On 6 November 1957 it was purchased from Agnew’s for £75 by the current owner, Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (1957.67). Prior to this it was in the collection of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, from whom it is presumed to have been stolen. Shrewsbury had bought it from Paul Oppé for £34 in 1949. This drawing’s movements between 1949 and 1957 are uncertain: perhaps it was sold by Walker’s Galleries to Oppé, then returned to Walker’s in 1957, who then sold it on to Agnew’s in November of that year. Oppé died early in 1957 and it is difficult to think that this drawing could have reappeared on the London art market with his knowledge.

Associated People & Organisations

Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth, 6 November 1957, GBP 75, 1957.67
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 4 November 1959, GBP 60, no.9003
[?] Walker's Galleries, London
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, 1949, GBP 34
[?] Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), 1949
Walker's Galleries, London, 1949
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 41 as 'The Great Room in the ditto[ie Ludlow Castle], in which Milton's Masque of Comus was first performed'
unidentified exhibition, Walker's Galleries, 1949, no. 149
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 136
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 48


This is one of four views that Towne is known to have made of Ludlow Castle (FT108FT109FT115FT116). See also the Comment at FT108.

This drawing shows signs of having been amended long after the initial sketch was made, particularly in the dark areas at the bottom and right, and the picking out of the corbels.

by Richard Stephens

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