Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Starcross
Pen and ink, watercolour
  • image height 110mm,
  • image width 180mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “Star Cross [?]on the Exe”
  • and dated 18 September 1813
Part of
  • 1812-1815 Sketchbook
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Christie's records


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 Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751. Probably the book was among the “two small sketchbooks and five small drawings late in date” that Judith Merivale sold to Squire Gallery in 1945 for £50. In 1946 it was on sale at the Fine Art Society (no.4033), where on 4 March 1946 it was bought for £26 5s. by Sir John Heathcoat Amory, Bt (1894–1972), who sold it on 27 February 1956 to Agnew’s (no.8262), who sold it on 9 February 1957 to a collector. It is thereafter untraced apart from its sale at Christie’s on (according to the Art Sales Index) 25 October 1993, lot 642, for £1,100.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 25 October 1993, GBP 1100
Christie's, London, London, 25 October 1993, lot 642
Private Collection, 9 February 1957
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 27 February 1956, no.8262
Sir John Heathcoat Amory (1894 - 1972), 4 March 1946, GBP 26.5s
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1946, no.4033
[?] Squire Gallery, London, 1945
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Winter Exhibition of Early English Watercolours and Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1946, no. 125 as 'Star Cross, 1813'
83rd Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1957, no. 26


Starcross is a small village towards the mouth of the Exe estuary,1 a few hundred yards away from Cockwood (see FT631, FT857), the home of Dr Drury where John Merivale’s daughters were “constant visitors” between 1805 and 1815.2 Living at Starcross was the eldest daughter of Towne’s client of the 1780s, Thomas Snow. She was “the wife of Captain, afterwards Admiral Bond . . . [and] had frequent intercourse with Dr and Mrs Drury at Cockwood, their elder children being playfellows with my brothers”.3 

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Donn 1965, pl.7b.
  2. 2 Merivale 1884, p.184.
  3. 3 Merivale 1884, pp.130–31.

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