Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Totnes and Dartington
No date
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 203mm,
  • image length 254mm
laid paper with an indistinct watermark
  • sheet, verso
  • “from 6 O Clock in the evening till 7”
  • in black ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it passed to 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 (BP223) and by 1945 it was on sale at the Fine Art Society, where on 24 April 1945 it was bought for £36 15s. by J. Hawkesley Elliott of Sheffield (d.1977/78), who or whose heirs were probably the vendors at Christie’s on 22 November 1977, lot 116, for £330. It was sold again at Bearne’s in Exeter in March 2003, lot 345.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, March 2003
Bearne's, Exeter, March 2003, lot 345
Private Collection, 22 November 1977, GBP 330
Christie's, London, London, 22 November 1977, lot 116
Joseph Hawksley Elliot (1884 - 1978), Sheffield, 24 April 1945
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 24 April 1945, GBP 36.15s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP223
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP223
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816


This is a view of Totnes and Dartington in Devon, although the inscription to that effect on the reverse of the drawing is not in Towne’s hand. This has none of the wiry clarity of much of the English work of the 1780s and is probably later still, of the 1790s or 1800s. The lighting effect is much the same as in a 1791 scene at Dunsford Bridge (FT570). However, the tree framing the right edge of the drawing is not characteristic of Towne’s pen style as he frequently lifts the pen off the paper between the curls of foliage, rather than producing a continuous curly or wavy line. Oddly, this makes the tree look like the very late style of John White Abbott.1

by Richard Stephens

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