Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Foliage Study
No date
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 197mm,
  • image length 159mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.T.”
  • in brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
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. Merivale’s granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP191, BP192, BP193, or BP194). In 1945 Judith Merivale sold it to Squire Gallery for £50 in a parcel of “two small sketchbooks and five small drawings late in date”. According to museum records, in May 1950 it was purchased from Colnaghi by the current owner, the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield (Vis.2993). However, Agnew’s records (no.6043) state that they bought it from Walker’s Galleries on 10 October 1949 and sold it to the museum on 6 May 1950 for £45.

Associated People & Organisations

Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, Sheffield, 6 May 1950, GBP 45, Vis.2993
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 10 October 1949, no.6043
Walker's Galleries, London, October 1949
[?] P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, May 1950
Squire Gallery, 1945, GBP 50
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP191, BP192, BP193 or BP194
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP191, BP192, BP193 or BP194
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
unidentified exhibition, Walker's Galleries, 1949, no. 152
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 34
Richard Seddon, 'Some Notable Watercolours of the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield', Old Watercolour Society's Club, ed. Adrian Bury (ed.): London, 1963, p. 25


This is a version of a composition dated 1783 (FT408). Paul Oppé described four foliage studies, BP191–94, of which the Sheffield drawing is one. All four were among the parcel sold to Squire Gallery in 1945 and the Sheffield drawing was exhibited at Walker’s Galleries in 1949. Oppé’s note of these four reads: “191-4 n.d. Foliage no date. F.T. are experiments without outline save pencil in places. Feeble & washy (my Lydford [FT567]).”1 Oppé was perhaps describing these when he wrote of “four drawings of trees, probably about 1800 . . . exceedingly dainty and careful studies in pretty transparent colouring”,2 but equally he may have meant the tree studies sold through Agnew’s in the mid-1940s (FT624, FT632, FT633). The drawings are undated, but when they were sold in 1945, they were considered to be “late in date”.

The Sheffield drawing is close in style to an undated waterfall study (FT630) and it recalls FT276, drawn in 1781, in its decorative arrangement of the key elements. Although it is based on a pen drawing dated 1783, it surely dates from some years afterwards, perhaps towards the end of the 1780s.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.
  2. 2 Oppé 1920, p.125.

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