Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Torre Abbey, Torquay
ca. 1775 - 1779
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 318mm,
  • image length 416mm
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Torre Abbey, Devon, the Seat of George Cary, Esq
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Information at the Paul Mellon Centre, London


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 granddaughter Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) inherited the drawing in 1915. It was acquired on 30 September 1935, lot 29, for £1 8s. 6d. (with FT055, FT064, FT564) by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2103). It was not part of the collection sold to Tate Britain by Oppé's descendants in 1996.

Associated People & Organisations

Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923)
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957)
Private Collection
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 7
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148


Torre Abbey was the seat of George Cary (1731–1805), the head of an old Devon family of Catholics. It is on the east Devon coast at the northern end of Tor Bay.1 The drawing is a preparatory work for FT147 drawn, it seems, from a natural promontory that enabled Towne to achieve the effect of looking over the water.

The hilltop chapel of St Michael’s at the far left is also visible in the drawing by Frances Giffard (FT882) dated 1791, itself almost certainly a copy of a lost work by Towne.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.11a.

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