Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Lake Bala
  • The Lake of Bala
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 299mm,
  • image length 614mm
three sheets with a vertical crease mark down the centre of the largest
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “No.7 / F.Towne / delt 1777”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “A Copy of this Sr. Thomas Acland Bart / Ordered Decr 28. 1785 / No7 The Lake of Bala North Wales / drawn on the Spot by Francis Towne June 27. 1777. / Mounted Octr 21st. 1801”
Object Type

Lake Bala
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. Merivale’s granddaughters Misses Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP102). On 24 May 1921 they sold it (also 74, 86, 111, 260) to Agnew’s (no.9953) for £40 for onward sale the same day (for £350 with FT074, FT086, FT108, FT111, FT237, FT260, FT366, FT469, FT504) to the current owner, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (Inv 88'21).

Associated People & Organisations

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 24 May 1921, GBP 350 , Inv 88'21
Acquired with FT074, FT086, FT108, FT111, FT237, FT260, FT366, FT469, FT504
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 24 May 1921, GBP 40, no.9953
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP102
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP102
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. 44 as 'The Lake of Bala'
unidentified exhibition, National Library of Wales, 1956, no. 36
unidentified exhibition, Arts Council Welsh Committee, 1964
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 134
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 106, 107
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 132


Wyndham described Lake Bala, owned by Sir Watkins Williams Wynn, thus:

The lake, or pool, as it is called by the inhabitants, of Bala, is about four miles in length, and the general breadth is one. The whole water has a chrystallyne clearness, and its pebbled shore is never deformed with either mud, rushes or morass. The hills around, are, comparatively with the lake, of a moderate height; but if their elevation was to be taken from the sea level, they would not be much inferior to the highest in Wales. The lake itself is considerably advanced above the sea, for the river Dee makes a very rapid and constant descent from it, through a winding channel, for one hundred miles, before it arrives at Chester.1 

In the inscription Towne refers to a copy ordered in 1785 but dated 1788 (FT550), one of several Devon and North Wales views purchased from Towne by the Aclands. 

It is very likely that much of the dark shading visible on foreground foliage and rocks was applied around 1801, when Towne mounted this drawing.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wyndham 1781, p.183.

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