Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Coniston Water
  • Lake of Coniston
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 155mm,
  • image length 470mm
two sheets
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.24” in pencil (on left sheet?) and “No24 Lake of Coniston light from the left hand / August 25th. 1786 / F.Towne” in ink
Part of
  • Partially-disbound sketchbook sold by Judith Merivale to H. B. Milling of Squire Gallery
Object Type

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


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. On 25 January 1946 Mrs(?) Ringer(?) sold this drawing to Colnaghi (no.A13452), who sold it on 1 February 1946 for £85 to David, Viscount Eccles (1904–1999), in whose possession it remained until the 1970s. On 18 April 1979 Agnew’s (no.6578) bought it and sold it to a private collector on 14 January 1980. It was sold at Sotheby’s on 14 November 1991, lot 68, for £22,000. On 5 September 1997 it was acquired from a UK private collection by Spink-Leger Pictures, which sold it on 5 March 1999 for £40,000 to another UK private collection, which still owned it in March 2006. In 2012 it was sold by Guy Peppiatt Fine Art Ltd to the Wordsworth Trust.

Associated People & Organisations

Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, 2012, WRD2613448
Guy Peppiatt, London, 2012
Private Collection, 5 March 1999, GBP 40000
Spink-Leger Pictures, London, 5 September 1997
Private Collection, 14 November 1991, GBP 22000
Sotheby's, London, London, 14 November 1991, lot 68
Private Collection, 14 January 1980
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 18 April 1979, no.6578
Viscount David Eccles (1904 - 1999), 1 February 1946, GBP 85
P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 25 January 1946, no.A13452
Mr Ringer
Horace Bernard Milling (1898 - 1954), London, February 1845, GBP 25
Sold within a partially-disbound sketchbook containing FT455, FT462, FT470, FT471, FT472, FT475, FT476, FT477, FT478, FT494, FT495, FT496
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
Exhibition History
A Loan Exhibition of English Drawings & Watercolours in memory of the late D.C.T.Baskett, Colnaghi, 1963, no. 13
107th Annual Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, Agnew, 1980, no. 7
Gerald Bauer, Le Siecle d'Or de L'Aquarelle Anglaise, Biblioth: Paris, 1998, p. 43
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, pp. 106-107


Coniston Water is a lake four or five miles south-west of Ambleside. This is a view at the northern end of the lake, looking west towards the Old Man of Coniston. Sir George Beaumont’s 1781 sketch from a similar point is now in the Wordsworth Trust. Thomas West focused his attention on views of the lake from the south, but mentions this view in passing: as the visitor travels east from Waterhead on the Hawkshead road, which Towne shows in this sketch, “Ascend a steep hill surrounded with wood, and have a back view of the lake.”1

Within the sketchbook this drawing was after an unfinished sketch of rocks and trees (FT477) and before the double-page view of Buttermere (FT494).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 West 1778, p.53.

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