Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Landscape with Ruin
  • An Ivy Covered Ruin
ca. 1780 - 1790
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 216mm,
  • image length 264mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.57 / Caroln / [?]Caxohne[indistinct word]” and in a different color of ink: “Joseph”.
  • the latter word repeated twice with slight variations, apparently to transcribe a Welsh place name
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 1997 Spink-Leger catalogue (image)


With the Ruskin Gallery at some point before 1996, and sold by Christie’s on 9 July 1996, lot 35, where it was bought by Leger Galleries, who on the same day sold it to Spink, where it was bought on 22 May 1997 for £7,200 by a US private collector. That was presumably Roberta J. M. Olson and Alexander B. V. Johnson, who gave it in 2013 to the present owner, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2013.1121.1).

Associated People & Organisations

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013, 2013.1121.1
Roberta J. M. Olson
Alexander B. V. Johnson
Spink & Son, London, London, 22 May 1997
Spink & Son, London, 9 August 1996
Leger Galleries, 9 August 1996
Christie's, London, London, 9 July 1996
lot 35
Ruskin Gallery
Exhibition History
Annual Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings 1997, Spink-Leger Pictures, 1997, no. 20


The identity of this ruin is unknown and the inscription has not been linked to any place name. There is a verso inscription, “Joseph”, but not in Towne’s hand; could it refer to Joseph Francis Merivale (1827–49), John Herman Merivale’s youngest son? The drawing is also difficult to date. The very orderly layering of colouring together with some of the brush touches and the low profile of the pen line argue for a date in the later 1780s or early 1790s. The formal foliage foreground on the left and the treatment of the tree group in the mid-ground, whose trunks have been left unshaded, are comparable to the undated study of the Wrekin (FT397a). Evidently the subject is British and depicts an ecclesiastical ruin.

by Richard Stephens

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