Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View Looking over Starcross
ca. 1778 - 1780
Pencil, pen and black and brown inks
  • image width 311mm,
  • image length 606mm
paper with four creasemarks (vertical and horizontal) and watermarked with a Strasbourg lily design and "J.Villedary"
  • recto
  • on the far bank: "water / water / water / water / water"; and on the houses by the near shore: "slate / white / slate / white"
  • verso
  • formerly: "A View looking over Star Cross / 83"
  • in brown ink
Object Type
Outline only

A View from the South East Window of the Belvedere
A View looking towards Star Cross and Exmouth from the South East window of the Belvedere
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum's own information


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 (BP180). On 12 April 1946 Judith Merivale’s executors sold the drawing to Agnew’s (no.4549), who sold it on 7 October 1949 for £30 to Paul Oppé (1878–1957) on behalf of the present owner, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (no.5583, Oppé 147).

Associated People & Organisations

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 7 October 1949, no.5583
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 7 October 1949, GBP 30
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 12 April 1946, no.4549
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP180
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP180
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Annual Report of the Board of Trustees for the fiscal year 1949/50: Ottawa, 1949, p. 19
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 50


Starcross is a small village at the mouth of the Exe estuary. The view looks over Starcross and the Powderham marshland across the water to Exmouth. One of the two large houses at the waterfront in the centre of this drawing is very probably Cockwood, which Dr Drury later redeveloped (see FT631).

The drawing is a preparatory study for FT133, now lost but one of a series associated with Powderham and the Exe estuary, of which two are dated 1778 and 1779. This drawing is stylistically similar to others of the late 1770s (for example FT138). See the Comment at FT119.

Oppé saw the drawing in the possession of the Misses Merivale, when it was roughly 100 mm taller than it is now. According to the museum’s records, Agnew’s cut off the verso inscription, presumably also losing the 100 mm strip.

by Richard Stephens

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