Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Werrington Park, near the Dairy
  • Werrington Park
ca. 1780 - 1790
Pencil, pen and light brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 216mm,
  • image length 279mm
laid paper
  • sheet, verso
  • “Werington Park near the Dairy / Francis Towne delt”
  • in brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it reverted 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 (BP228). In 1938 Judith Merivale sold it to Robert Dunthorne & Son Ltd. at the Rembrandt Gallery for £2 10s. By 1942 it was on sale at the Fine Art Society, where on 27 November 1942 it was bought for £26 5s. by Lady Mary Alice Clare Dormer (née Feilding) of Byways, South Ascot (1888–1973). She sold it at Sotheby’s on 10 December 1958, lot 96, for £60 to the Fine Art Society (no.6710), which in 1964 or 1965 sold it for £126 to “J Suppton” [“Sceppton”?], whose heirs sold it at Sotheby’s on 23 November 2006, lot 222, for £7,200 including fees.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 23 November 2006, GBP 7200
Sotheby's, London, London, 23 November 2006, lot 222
J Suppton [“Sceppton”?], GBP 126
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1964, GBP 60, no.6710
Sotheby's, London, London, 10 December 1958, lot 96
Lady Mary Alice Clare Dormer (1888 - 1973), Byways, Ascot , 27 November 1942, GBP 26.5s
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 27 November 1942
Rembrandt Gallery, 1938, GBP 2.10s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP228
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP228
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Watercolours: Drawings and Oils by Early English Artists, Fine Art Society, 1942, no. 74, as 'Werrington Park'
Thirty-Ninth Exhibition of Early English Water-Colours and Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1959, no. 27
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 32
Benjamin Donn, 'A Map of the County of Devon', Benjamin Donn: A Commemorative Volume, Devon and Cornwall Record Society and The University of Exeter: Exeter, 1965, plate 5b


In the PhD thesis version of this catalogue this drawing was allocated a place among Towne’s very earliest drawings and was compared with a 1773 Ugbrooke drawing (FT034). When it was offered for sale at Sotheby’s in 2006, this author persisted with that opinion against the better judgment of Henry Weymss.1 However, since then it has been possible to study the lakeside study of Peamore in New York and other works of the later 1780s and 1790s, and although an early date is not out of the question, it seems more likely that it belongs in the later period. That, also, is where Oppé appears to have placed it, describing the drawing thus: “228 Werrington Dairy. Hot[?] brown & blue nearest to 202 [FT435, dated 1785]. no pen loose rich.”2 The inscription is certainly in a mature hand, unlike early inscriptions, and consistent with inscriptions of the late 1780s and 1790s. The tree branch flicks seen in the top left of the drawing are also present in the undated lakeside study at Peamore (FT024) and in the undated Werrington study (FT589a), the latter of whose overall composition is broadly similar, consisting of a V-shaped tree in the right-of-centre foreground, with a river flowing to the bottom left. The freedom with which Towne has drawn the crazed main tree here is also out of character with the more delicate and posed trees of his earliest work. And, although no coloured works survive from the early 1770s that might permit a detailed comparison, the sky in this drawing has a sunset effect that Towne often used in work of the 1780s.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wilcox also suggested a date of “?c.1770”, though only having seen a black and white photograph: Wilcox 1997, p.31, fig.8.
  2. 2 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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