Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • View of Porlock and Porlock Bay
Pencil, pen and grey and black inks, grey and grey/brown washes
  • image width 308mm,
  • image length 497mm
laid paper with a vertical crease mark at the centre, watermarked “PORTAL”
  • sheet, verso
  • “A View of Porlock Octr 4th 1785 / Somersetshire / from 12 till 2 o clock. Light from the left hand / drawn on the spot by F.Towne”
  • in grey ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 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 granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxofrd, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP196). On 28 January 1937 Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.2290) for £30 with FT038, FT039, FT042, FT062, FT287, FT379, where it was bought on 19 April 1938 for £10 by Henry Herbert Harrod (d.1945), who bequeathed it to the present owner, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (E.1487-1948).

Associated People & Organisations

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1945, E.1487-1948
Henry Herbert Harrod (1870 - 1945), London, 19 April 1938, GBP 10
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 28 January 1937, GBP 30 , no.2290
With FT038, FT039, FT042, FT062, FT287, FT379
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP196
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP196
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Annual Water Colour Exhibition 1926, The Judge's Lodgings, Winchester, 1926, no. 117
65th Annual Exhibition of Water Colour and Pencil Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1938, no. 105
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 128


Porlock Bay, on the Somerset coast, was part of the Holnicote estate of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland. 

Oppé described three drawings associated with the Acland estates (FT436, FT438, and FT440), including the present drawing, thus: “1785. Porlock etc. might be pre Italy. Pen & wash 3 Aclands are similar (8gns on each) Tones all over in blue grey. not dated. Pretty, comprehensive, in effect.”1

Oppé’s comment notwithstanding, the pen work here is reminiscent of the outline Towne made near Vevay on 20 September 1781 (FT380).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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