Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Eagle Crag, Borrowdale
  • View in Borrowdale of Eagle Crag and Rosthwaite
ca. 1786/08
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour, on laid paper
  • image width 213mm,
  • image length 340mm
mounted by the artist on laid paper watermarked 'WHATMAN'
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Borrodale at [indistinct word] / [indistinct word] [Rock or Be]ck”
  • in pencil, almost erased
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


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. On 17 February 1961 it was sold by a Mrs Merivale to Agnew’s (no.1129) with FT458, FT468, FT481, FT581. She was probably Josephine Merivale, wife of Dr Walter Herman Hodgson Merivale (ca. 1918–1971), and the drawing was probably inherited from his father (?Herman Walter Merivale, b.1898), who was given them by John Herman Merivale’s granddaughter, Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945). On 8 March 1961 Agnew’s sold it for £400 to Paul Mellon (1907–1999), who gave it to the current owner, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (B1977.14.6294; gift to Yale, December 1977).

Associated People & Organisations

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, December 1977, B1977.14.6294
Mr Paul Mellon (1907 - 1999), 8 March 1961, GBP 400
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 17 February 1961, no.1129
[?] Josephine Merivale, 1961
Dr Walter Herman Hodgson Merivale (ca. 1918 - 1971), 1961
[?] Herman Walter Merivale (1898)
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
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 78 as 'Eagle Cragg, Burrowdale'
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 122


This is another drawing (with FT511) of Eagle Crag and Langstrathdale Beck, differing most obviously in the foreground, which shows signs of having been worked on late in Towne’s career (comparable also to FT519). The sky in the left is somewhat yellow, suggesting an evening view.

The lack of a detailed provenance prior to 1961 makes it impossible to identify which part of the Merivale collection this drawing comes from. The nearest candidate is BP157 (FT529), a Lake District drawing on Italian paper that apparently remained in the Merivale family until or after Judith Merivale’s death in 1945. However, this drawing is on laid paper and is dated.

The framing line on the mount is untypical of Towne’s usual washed lines, comprising one thin grey and one thin sandy brown wash, on laid paper. The mount paper has been cut down in size, as a modern pencil inscription in the bottom-right corner has been cut off. Judging by the brown stains in the upper-left and bottom-centre edges of the sheet, this image was framed and on display in the early or mid-twentieth century.

by Richard Stephens

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