Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View near Exwell, looking towards Topsham
No date
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 273mm,
  • image length 483mm
paper with a vertical crease down its centre, watermarked "J WHATMAN" and cut down at its top edge
Object Type
Monochrome wash

A View near Exwell looking towards Topsham
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Descended in the family of John White Abbott until sold at Taylors in Honiton on 14 October 1993, lot 275, where it was bought for £1,100 by a private collector. In 2005 it was sold by John Spink (listed at £37,500).

Associated People & Organisations

John White Abbott (1763 - 1851)
Private Collection
John Spink
Taylor's, Honiton
Exhibition History
Francis Towne and his Friends, John Spink at Colnaghi, 2005, no. 1
Paul Oppé, 'John White Abbott', Walpole Society Journal: London, 1925, p. 76 (as by John White Abbott)
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 50


This drawing is a view from the grounds of Powderham just to the left of the Belvedere, looking up and across the Exe estuary. Topsham is visible on the far bank. Exwell Hill is a prominence a few hundred yards north of Powderham, from which Towne probably made the view.

Oppé saw this drawing in the White Abbott collection, where he called it Mouth of the Exe, “one of John White Abbott’s rather later monochrome drawings of Devonshire. . . . The medium encourages Abbott to a greater boldness of contrast and brings him nearer again to Towne’s larger conception as well as to his mature execution.1 Oppé was unaware of FT137, for which (as Wilcox has observed) this drawing is clearly a preparatory study, described by Towne as A View taken near Exwell looking towards Topsham. There must be a section of the drawing missing, on which Towne based the left area of FT137.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Oppé 1925, p.76.

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