Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Exe Estuary
No date
Pencil [?], pen and ink, grey wash
  • image width 406mm,
  • image length 610mm
paper with creasemarks and watermarked with a Fleur de Lys design with the letters "I.V.C." and "VI" underneath
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Notebooks and papers of Paul Oppé (1878-1957), private collection

Barton Place catalogue, archives of Thomas Agnew & Sons


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 (BP181). The Barton Place catalogue records no sale of this work. It is perhaps the “Landscape Mouth of the Exe” sold by Judith Merivale’s executors on 12 April 1946 to Agnew’s (no.4551), where it was bought on 10 September 1947 for £36 15s. (the same price as FT136) by Lieutenant Commander George Gosselin Marten of Crichel, Wimborne (d.1997), whose family in 2005 were unaware of the drawing. Possibly this is the work bought by Colnaghi (no.29757) from Phillips, lot 9 (no date given in the Drawings Book but possibly 27 September 1966), which they sold to a private collector on 9 March 1967. It was described by Colnaghi as a monochrome “?View of Exmouth” measuring 16⅝ x 25¾ in. (i.e. 422 x 654 mm).

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 9 March 1967
[?] P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 27 September 1966, no.29757
[?] Phillips, London, 27 September 1966, lot 9
[?] Lieutenant Commander George Gosselin Marten ( - 1997), 10 September 1947, GBP 36
[?] Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 12 April 1946, no.4551
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP181
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP181
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816


Paul Oppé’s note reads:

181 same size [as FT136]. Fleur de Lys with I.V.C. under & VI. subsqt folds. Similar view over trees to headland Lft centre & over flat land to ships & sea R to centre Park. Washed with ind ink. Trees generally passing to crinkle but often are more free. Much hatching. Very fine drawn cows L.1

Judging by Oppé’s description this drawing is probably a preparatory study for one of the Powderham commissions depicting views on the Exe estuary and elsewhere. If so, FT133, A View from the South East Window of the Belvedere seems the likeliest candidate; alternatively it may relate to FT139 which is a view looking south-south-east.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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