Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Tree Study
ca. 1812 - 1815
pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
paper with stitch marks along the left edge and (towards the top and centre) red and brown fragments which may be the remnants of book covers
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number


This sketch was acquired by D L J Perkins (also FT635, FT766, FT782, FT784 and FT785a) and it remains in a private collection. The 20th century dealer's mount is inscribed 'ex coll. Merivale' and, given the dimensions of the sheet and the compatibility of its style with other sheets from the book, it is very likely this was once part of the 1812-15 sketchbook. The book was probably one of the "two small sketchbooks and five small drawings (late)" that Judith Merivale sold to the Squire Gallery in 1945 for £50 (as at least one of its drawings was purchased from the gallery around that time), but many pages from the book were on sale at the Fine Art Society in 1946. D L J Perkins's documented purchases of Townes were made at Agnew's between 1939 and 1944, meaning that he was active at the same time that the sketchbook was dispersed.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection
D. L. J. Perkins (ca. 1902 - ?)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
James White (1744 - 1825)


Given its size and the style of drawing it is fairly clear that this comes from the 1812-15 sketchbook and indeed (on the basis of the photograph) it seems that at the left edge of the sheet there are marks of holes made by stitching and even (towards the top and at the centre) darker bits of red and brown which may be remnants of the book's covers and may indicate that this sheet was at one extremity of the book, and came away from the cover when the sheet was removed from the book. Among the 1812-15 sketches, two have not been photographed, but their provenances are incompatible with this sheet. It seems therefore that this is a new addition to the sketchbook which has been in continuous private ownership since the Merivale family sold the sketchbook in the 1940s, and therefore has not come to the attention of the London art market in the way that other sheets have done.

Stylistically, the drawing looks like others that Towne made in the period 1812-15, and is most obviously comparable to FT734, a tree study drawn on 13 August 1812 in Dulwich. Both employ a delicate and controlled pen line that - perhaps due to the artist's increasing frailty - lack the vigour and flow characteristic of his earlier outlines.

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