Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • In St John’s in the Vale
Pen and ink, watercolour, scratching out
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 235mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “No30 Cumberland. In the Vale of St. John by the side of the lake of Wyburn. Light from the right hand ½ past 10 o’clock August 17 1786.F.Towne”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Agnew's 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 and it is thereafter untraced until the early 1970s, when it was acquired by Agnew’s from Newhouse(?) on 21 April 1971 (no.0594). Agnew’s sold it on 2 January 1973.

Associated People & Organisations

Untraced, 2 January 1973
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 21 April 1971, no.0594
[?] Newhouse
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
100th Annual Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1973, no. 16
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 121
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 119


This is a view of Thirlmere (also known as Wythburn) on the road from Ambleside to Keswick. St John’s in the Vale, to which Towne’s inscription refers, is an area south-east of Keswick and north of Thirlmere, where on 17 August Towne made seven drawings that are numbered between 30 and 36 (FT486, FT487, FT488, FT489, FT490, FT491, FT492). The present work, however, is south of St John’s in the Vale. The rock on the far edge of the lake is halfway up the lake, just south of the lower (larger) of two islands, and known as Hause Point.1 

Paul Oppé saw this drawing in ca. 1915, by which time it had come apart from the rump of the 1786 sketchbook.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 The author’s identification is based on a visit in March 2006. At the same time, however, the curator at Dove Cottage suggested that this view shows Helvellyn from a small track on the west shore of the lake.

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