Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Vale of the Dee below Llangollen
Pen and ink, watercolour
  • image width 305mm,
  • image length 483mm
paper with a vertical crease down the centre
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F. Towne / del. 1777 No. 37”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “The vale of the Dee below Llangollen drawn on the spot by F Towne [indistinct words, erased] 1777 No37. Light from the Left hand mounted[?] in 1801”
  • Inscribed in pencil up to “Llangollen”, otherwise ink, ands “A copy of this Lady Acland has.”
Object Type

Vale of the Dee below Llangollen
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Paul Oppé records; Inland Revenue Register of Tax Exempt Heritage Items


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 (BP119). In September 1936 (October according to the Barton Place catalogue) Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.2157) for £35, where on 17 September 1936 H. M. C. Jones Mortimer bought it for £35. The drawing is now in a private collection in Clwyd (Inland Revenue Tax Exempt Heritage Item 17552).

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, Clwyd, 17552
H. M. C. Jones Mortimer, 7 September 1936, GBP 35
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, September 1936, GBP 35, no. 2157
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP119
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP119
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. 42 as 'Vale of the Dee'
Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours & Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1934, no. 114 as 'The Valley of the Dee, below Llangollen 1777'
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 106


Towne made seven drawings along the valley of the Dee near Llangollen (this drawing and FT100, FT101, FT102, FT103, FT104, FT105), which reflects the value placed on images of its landscape, especially since Richard Wilson’s many paintings of the 1760s made plain the area’s picturesque possibilities. This example was probably drawn on 17 July 1777, as four of Towne’s Dee Valley views bear that date.

Paul Oppé’s note reads:

119. 12x19 [305 x 483 mm]. fold. 1777 on front. The vale of the Dee below Llangollen (in pencil) drawn on the spot by F Towne erasure 1777 No37. Light fr L hand. A copy of this Lady Acland has. Tree, wooly, waded green brown shadow & disappearing[?] wooded hill, green crumbly outline, yellow brown, green wooded mid distance, blue grey hills. Outlined cloud tending[?] to dark grey blue. Cottage smoke, not only light[?] blue but erasure as well [. . .] accidental, not much meaning[?]. Finely outlined, double purpose colour. Big patch of apparently afterthought colour on tree L.1

Oppé also records that “the commission was given by Lady Acland in 1785 while the drawing was only mounted in 1801”,2 as was Towne’s drawing of Lake Bala (FT072), another Acland North Wales commission The Llangollen drawing is one of two Dee subjects ordered by Lady Acland (the other being FT103), of four North Wales commissions in total (see the Comment at FT449). The watercolour resulting from this commission is FT551, dated 1788.


by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.
  2. 2 Oppé 1920, p.106.

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