Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Rydal Water
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 157mm,
  • image length 237mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne . delt. 1786 / No8.”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Taken at the going off of / a storm / No.8 / Rydal Water / with Mr. Jones’s & Sir Michael Fleming / Drawn by Francis Towne / [“1786” scratched out] / London [“Leicester Square / 1790” scratched out]”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Wilcox 1997 (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 Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) inherited the drawing in 1915 and gave it on 19 May 1921 to the current owner, the Victoria and Albert Museum (P.19-1921).

Associated People & Organisations

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 19 May 1921, P.19-1921
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. 68, 76 or 90 as 'Rydal Water'
Prospects, Thresholds, Interiors, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1994, no. 7
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 47
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 128
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 168
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 121
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 112


Rydal Water is a lake a mile or so north of Ambleside on the road to Keswick. Rydal Hall, the seat of Sir Michael le Fleming (see also 474, 478, 520a), is visible as a tiny white block in the bottom-right corner. “Mr Jones” is unknown, but Robert Woof suggested to Wilcox that he was Mr Jenny of Ipswich, who occasionally occupied Rydal Mount, the house next to Rydal Hall.1 Towne’s viewpoint is at or beyond the southern end of Rydal Park. 

Joseph Farington made a similarly stormy view of Rydal Water, with its rays of light breaking through clouds, known in reverse through an engraving of 1785.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wilcox 1997, p.112.
  2. 2 B. T. Pouncey after Joseph Farington, Rydal Water, 1785 (Wordsworth Trust).

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