Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A Scene taken at Canonteign
Pencil (?), watercolour
  • image width 216mm,
  • image length 279mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne / delt 1789”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “A Scene taken at Canon-teign / in the County of Devon / drawn on the Spot / by / Francis Towne / 1789”
  • in brown ink, on a label formerly attached to the verso of the artist’s mount
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination (of the label); Museum records (image)


Untraced until acquired in 1878 from Hogarth (art dealers of 96 Mount Street, London) by Dr John Percy (1817–1889), and sold by his executors at Christie’s on 23 April 1890, lot 1251, to Dowdeswell for 10s. It is thereafter untraced until it was purchased from the Medici Society in Harrogate by the Walker Mechanics Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne (acting under the direction of the John Wigham Richardson Bequest to the Laing Art Gallery). In 1926 the Walker Mechanics Institute lent, then in 1942 gave, the drawing to the current owner, the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (TWCMS : C13158).

Associated People & Organisations

Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1942, TWCMS : C13158
Medici Society, Harrogate, London, 1926
Dowdeswell, 23 April 1890
Christie's, London, London, 23 April 1890, GBP 10s, lot 1251
Dr John Percy (1817 - 1889), 1879
Hogarth, 1878
Exhibition History
British Watercolours, Laing Art Gallery, 1993, no. 25
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 124
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 137
Richard Polwhele, The History of Devonshire, Cadell Johnson and Dilley: London and Exeter, 1793, vol 2, p. 74


Richard Polwhele noted that the Canonteign waterfall “was peculiarly magnificent in the September of 1789, as it had been swelled by the extraordinary rains in the beginning of that month”,1 and perhaps Towne’s interest was drawn to this site then, for the reasons Polwhele gave. At any rate, it is the only instance known where Towne drew the waterfall, although he made many sketches in its close vicinity.

The label formerly attached to the mount is stuck into the catalogue compiled by Dr Percy of his collection.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Polwhele 1793, vol.2, p.74.
  2. 2 Catalogue of the Watercolour Collection of Dr John Percy, Prints and Drawings Department library, British Museum, opp. pp.70–72.

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