Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • In the Valley of the Grisons looking on Tusis
  • Near Thusis, Grison, Switzerland: Morning (1781)
  • The Valley of the Glison
Pencil, pen and black and grey inks, watercolour with gum, scratching out
  • image width 288mm,
  • image length 467mm
paper watermarked 'C&I HONIG'
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked 'WHATMAN 1794'
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne delt / No.19 1781”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.19 / In the Valley of the Grisons looking on Tusis [“1781” scratched out] / in the morning drawn by Francis Towne on the Spot”
  • with “Tusis” gone over partly in dark brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Untraced until sold anonymously at Foster’s on 27 July 1910, lot 151 (a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT319, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793, FT862), for 25s. to Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.47). On 11 December 1947 Oppé swapped the drawing with Colnaghi for another (no.A14994), and the same day Colnaghi sold it for £120 to Gilbert Davis (1899–1983), who sold it back to Colnaghi (no.A20200) on 1 June 1954, where on the same day it was bought for £300 by William Wycliffe Spooner (1882–1967), who bequeathed it in 1967 to the present owner, The Courtauld Gallery, London (D.1967.WS.91).

Associated People & Organisations

Courtauld Gallery, London, London, 1967, D.1967.WS.91
William Wycliffe Spooner (1882 - 1967), 1 June 1954, GBP 300
P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 1 June 1954, no.A20200
Gilbert Davis (1899 - 1983), 11 December 1947, GBP 120
P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 11 December 1947, no.A14994
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 27 July 1910, GBP 25s, no.47
Foster's auctioneers (1883 - 1940), 27 July 1910, lot 151
Sold as a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT319, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793, FT862
Exhibition History
The Fiftieth Annual Exhibition of Selected Water Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1923, no. 95 as 'Near Thusis, Grison, Switzerland: Morning (1781)'
Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours & Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1934, no. 76 as 'The Valley of the Glison 1781'
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 23
The William Spooner Collection and Bequest, Courtauld Gallery, 1968, no. 17
Masters of the Watercolour: Watercolours from the Spooner Collection, Holburne of Menstruie Museum, 1969, no. 68
English Watercolours: the Spooner Collection and Bequest, City Art Gallery, 1973, no. 52
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 150
William Coxe, Travels in Switzerland in a Series of Letters to William Melmouth Esq, T. Cadell: London, 1789, vol 3, p. 172


[?]mid 1780s

According to Coxe, Tusis was “situated near the torrent of Nolla, at the beginning of the valley of Tomiliasca. This town is said by the antiquaries to have been built by the Tuscans, when they took refuge in these parts under Rhaetus.”1 John “Warwick” Smith’s later version of the same subject is dated 1784 (National Trust, Wallington Hall).

Towne contributed seven lots to Christie’s to be auctioned for the charity benefit of an artist on 25 March 1808. Lot 87 was In the Grisons, looking on Thusis, with a reserve of £2 2s. It was perhaps this drawing or else a version of it (see also FT066, FT085, FT114, FT118, FT257).

The drawing has clearly been worked on heavily long after 1781.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Coxe 1789, vol.3, p.172.

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