Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of the Waterfall at Lidford in the County of Devon
Pencil, pen and brown ink, grey wash
  • image width 304mm,
  • image length 205mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / del. 1780”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “A View of the waterfall / at Lidford in the / County of Devon / Drawn on the spot / by Francis Towne”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Untraced until bought by Paul Oppé (1878–1857; no.1601) at Appleby Bros in February 1924 for 12s. 6d. Oppé’s descendants sold it in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery, London (T08515).

Associated People & Organisations

Appleby Bros, London
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957)
Exhibition History
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 36
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148



The village of Lidford (now Lydford), on the river Lyd, is at the western edge of Dartmoor, halfway on the road between Oakhampton and Tavistock.1 There were two waterfalls at Lidford, the one here being the larger. Both were popular local landmarks by the time of Towne’s visit in 1780, and several prints were made in the late 1700s—for example by G. Beck in 1785, which captures well the twisting path of the cascade.2 Towne’s view of the smaller Lidford falls is FT567.

In contrast to some of his depictions of waterfalls in North Wales in 1777 (for example FT071), Towne has framed this view with a large and decorative foreground tree.

This drawing is coloured similarly to another drawing dated 1780, FT164, and the upper areas of the right-hand tree in both works are exactly similar in their pen drawing and in the application of wash. It is interesting to see Towne using brush hatchings to create shaded areas in the foliage in this drawing, around a decade before he was using it regularly.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.6b.
  2. 2 G. Beck, Lidford Waterfall, 1785 (Somers Cocks 2002).

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