Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Low Wood near Ambleside
  • Low Wood near Ambleside the head of the Lake of Windermere
  • Ambleside
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 477mm
two sheets
mounted by the artist[?]
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne. / delt. 1786 No.26”
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.26 / Low Wood near Ambleside the head of the Lake of Windermere. / Drawn by / Francis Towne August 16. 1786 / Light from the right hand.”
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 granddaughter Frances Solly (b.1858) inherited the drawing (doubtless from her sister Emily Buckingham, who died in 1923). In 1948 it was on sale at Walker’s Galleries, although it was also sold that year by Spink to the current owner, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery (BOLMG:1963.P.1), for £150.

Associated People & Organisations

Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1948, GBP 150, BOLMG:1963.P.1
Spink & Son, London, London, 1948
Walker's Galleries, London, 1948
Frances Ann Laura Solly (1858 - alive in 1932), 1923
Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
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. 80 as 'Low-Wood near Ambleside'
unidentified exhibition, Walker's Galleries, 1948, no. 127 as 'Low Wood near Ambleside the head of the Lake of Windermere. August 16, 1786 Light from the right hand. No.26'


The building here is Low Wood Inn, now a hotel. Towne made the view from an almost identical spot to the one used at FT485, although in this instance he is looking south down Windermere, not west across it. The Inn and the cluster of trees in the centre of the view also appear in FT468, at a somewhat greater distance.

This is one of five Windermere views dated 16 August. One is timed at 4:00 pm (FT483) and two others were “Taken after the sun was down” (FT484, FT485). The drawing here also appears to be an evening view, but the timing of the fifth is unclear (FT498). Towne was perhaps attracted to the edge of Windermere at this time of the day with the success in mind of Philip James de Loutherbourg’s Royal Academy exhibit of 1786. In the words of one reviewer, “Loutherbourg’s sun-set near the ferry of Windermere, is beautiful beyond description. It represents a calm piece of water reflecting the hills and country round.”1

Paul Oppé saw this drawing in Emily Buckingham’s collection on 16 July 1915. Although the museum’s records state that it is not in an eighteeenth-century mount, the completeness of the colouring, the length of the inscription, and the fact of Emily Buckingham’s ownership (when unfinished drawings from the sketchbook were retained by the Misses Merivale) suggest that it was once mounted.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 The Times, 3 May 1786.

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