Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View at Grasmere
No date
Watercolour, gum, scratching out
  • image width 320mm,
  • image length 435mm
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne” and “F.Towne / delt”
  • “A View in Grasmere, in Westmorland / by / Francis Towne / no.39 Queen Anne Street West / Cavendish Square”
  • from the original frame
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Sotheby’s records (image)


Sold at Sotheby’s on 17 November 1983 for £1,000, and again at Sotheby’s on 16 July 1987 lot 89 for £8,000.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 16 July 1987, GBP 8000
Sotheby's, London, London, 16 July 1987, lot 89
Private Collection, 17 November 1983, GBP 1000
Sotheby's, London, London, 17 November 1983
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 98 as 'Grasmere, in a gold frame and glass'
The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, Royal Academy of Arts, 1809, no. 383 as 'View at Grasmere, in Westmoreland'
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 136


This is based on a drawing of FT504.

The two signatures on Towne’s work may indicate that the watercolour was worked on twice, perhaps in advance of its two exhibitions if it can be identified with the 1805 exhibit as well as the 1809 Royal Academy show, in whose catalogue Towne’s address was given as 39 Queen Anne Street West.

Although Towne had exhibited oil paintings during the period of his career when he was seeking membership of the Royal Academy, from 1808 he appears to have shown watercolours there. This work shows Towne’s efforts to emulate the large and atmospheric “watercolour paintings” that had gained popularity at the Royal Academy in the late 1790s and early 1800s, and whose creators, their professional ambitions having been stifled by the Academy’s assumption of the superiority of oil paintings over watercolour,, formed a new exhibiting society for such works in late 1804.


by Richard Stephens

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