Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Underneath Knowle Hill
ca. 1780 - 1790
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 159mm,
  • image length 200mm
paper watermarked with a Britannia design
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, verso
  • “Underneath Nowle Hill / Francis Towne delt”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Christie's records (image)


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 (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP219). In 1945 Judith Merivale sold it to the Fine Art Society, where on 24 April 1945 it was sold for £31 10s. to J. Hawkesley Elliott of Sheffield (d. ca. 197). It was probably Elliott who sold the drawing at Christie’s on 9 November 1976, lot 72, for £350 to a purchaser, who (or whose heirs) sold it at Christie’s on 18 November 2004, lot 97, for £3,585 including fees.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 18 November 2004, GBP 3585
Christie's, London, London, 18 November 2004, lot 97
Private Collection, 9 November 1976, GBP 350
Christie's, London, London, 9 November 1976, lot 72
Joseph Hawksley Elliot (1884 - 1978), Sheffield, 24 April 1945, GBP 31.10s
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1945
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP219
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP219
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816


Knowle Hill is just east of Exmouth.1 Oppé’s note reads only “see 163”; however, the entry for BP163, which comes at the end of the list of 1786 Lake District drawings, is blank. On grounds of style it probably dates from the latter 1780s or 1790s, and is comparable with some of the more heavily worked drawings of that period, for instance a view near Hornsey dated 1786 (FT452) and of Exeter dated 1792 (FT571). The brush hatchings in the trees are also seen in a landscape composition that is undated but pre-dates 4 August 1791 (FT794). The composition as a whole is reminiscent of Towne’s 1780 view near the Arco Scuro looking into the gardens of the Villa Borghese (FT188).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.7b.

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