Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View near Dolgelly with Part of Cader Idris
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey and blue washes
  • image width 264mm,
  • image length 464mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “A View near Dolgelly with part of Cader Idris. June 30th. 1777 No.11 drawn on the Spot by Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.11 [...] Towne”
  • in fresher, browner ink than the rest
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Leonard Duke catalogue; Paul Oppé notes; Museum records; Sotheby’s 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 Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP105). Judith Merivale sold it to Squire Gallery in July 1935 for £8 8s., where it was bought by Leonard Duke CBE (1889–1971; no.D417) in August 1935. He sold it at Sotheby’s on 29 April 1971, lot 151, for £1,200 to Agnew’s (no.0617), who sold it on 1 January 1973 to a collector. In 1984 it was given anonymously to the current owner, the Rhode Island School of Design (84.203.11).

Associated People & Organisations

Rhode Island Museum of Art, School of Design, Providence, 1984, 84.203.11
Private Collection, 1 January 1973
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 29 April 1971, GBP 1200, no.0617
Sotheby's, London, London, 29 April 1971, lot 151
Leonard Duke (1889 - 1971), August 1935, no.D417
Squire Gallery, London, July 1935, GBP 8.8s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP105
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP105
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Drawings of Old Masters, Royal Academy, 1953, no. 450
100th Annual Exhibition of Watercolours and Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1973, no. 18
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 71, 151


In his note Paul Oppé compared the paper used here to the “double fold thick paper of early Exeter monochr”,1 by which he perhaps meant, for example, FT136. Museum records indicate a shorter inscription than Duke records.

1803, graphite, watercolour (grey) on paper

Towne’s view is taken from near Llanelltyd (compare with Cornelius Varley’s sketch, in the Courtauld Galleries), a view described by John Skinner in 1800: “The Church and College of Llaneltid, standing on a general declivity, forming a beautiful foreground; the Bridge, the river, Mr Vaughan’s house, on a well wooded hill, with neat white cottages interspersed, occupy the middle distance; Cader Idris rises with unrivaled grandeur in the background.”2 The buildings visible at the far left edge of the picture are perhaps those of Llanelltyd, with Mr Vaughan’s house just visible, far away at the foot of the mountain, between two dark trees about one third from the left edge. 

In this drawing Towne is using the tight-line drawing style that characterized his work of the late 1770s and early 1780s. In the right centre background he has marked a few lines to indicate shipping. The drawing is on laid paper with a crease, which has affected how Towne has applied both the wash and the ink. It is likely, therefore, that the paper was bound or stitched up when he was sketching, in a way that made the central area of the drawing inaccessible.


by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.
  2. 2 Cardiff Central Library, John Skinner’s MS travel journal.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.