Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Bassenthwaite
ca. 1786/08
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 155mm,
  • image length 350mm
two sheets
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.40.” in ink and “Light from the right hand / 10 O Clock Bassenthwaite Lake” in pencil
Part of
  • Partially-disbound sketchbook sold by Judith Merivale to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Sotheby’s records (image); Paul Oppé notes


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 within a partially disbound sketchbook containing FT455, FT462, FT470, FT471, FT472, FT475, FT476, FT477, FT478, FT480, FT494, FT495, FT496. In February 1945 Judith Merivale sold the book to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery for £25. The drawing was on sale in December 1945 at the Fine Art Society, where it was bought by Joseph Hawksley Elliot of Sheffield (d. ca. 1978), whose daughter sold it at Christie’s on 14 March 1978, lot 82 for £1,100 to Spink & Son, where it was purchased on 27 April 1979 for £2,600 to a UK corporate collection. It was sold at Sotheby’s on 27 November 2003, lot 254, for £19,200 including fees, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Sotheby's, London, London, 27 November 2003, lot 254
Corporate Collection, UK, 27 April 1979, GBP 2600
Spink & Son, London, London, 14 March 1978, GBP 1100
Christie's, London, London, 14 March 1978
lot 82
Joseph Hawksley Elliot (1884 - 1978), Sheffield, December 1945
The Fine Art Society, London, London, December 1945
Horace Bernard Milling (1898 - 1954), London, February 1945, GBP 25
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Private Collection, 27 November 2003, GBP 19200
Exhibition History
English Watercolour Drawings Annual Exhibition 1979, Spink, 1979, no. 6


Bassenthwaite is a lake three miles or so north-west of Keswick. This is a view looking south from near Armathwaite Hall, which was the standard spot from which to view the lake. The peaks of Skiddaw are on the left, partly obscured by cloud. 

When Paul Oppé saw this sketch within the 1786 sketchbook, it covered two full sheets, although only the one and a half sheets now surviving were coloured. Beyond the left edge was a further portion outlined in thin black or brown ink.

by Richard Stephens

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