Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View near the Turnpike on the Way from Low Wood to Ambleside
  • Near the turnpike coming from Low Wood to Ambleside
  • Ambleside
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour, gum
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 474mm
two sheets
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne.delt. / No.14.1786” in black ink; upper distance, “C D E” in brown ink; and “B C” in grey ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.14 / A View taken near the Turnpike coming from Low Wood / to Ambleside, at the head of the Lake of Windermere, in Westmorland. / Drawn on the spot by Francis Towne / August 12th.1786 / A Rydalpeak / B Rydal Cragg / C Rydal head / B lower Greaves / A higher Greaves [with a large bracket “}” covering all five preceding lines] In Rydal Park / C Rydal Lower peak or Cragg / D Rydal Higher peak / E Great Ridge / E Read Crease / Leicester Square / 1791”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 1993 Royal Academy catalogue (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it passed to John Herman Merivale (1779–1844) and his successors. Merivale’s granddaughter Emily Harriet Buckingham (1953–1923) inherited the drawing in 1915 and on 24 May 1921 she sold it to Agnew’s (no.9958) for £50 for onward sale the same day (for £350 with FT072, FT074, FT086, FT108, FT111, FT237, FT260, FT366, FT504) to the current owner, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (1921P91).

Associated People & Organisations

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 24 May 1921, GBP 350, 1921P91
Acquired with FT072, FT074, FT086, FT108, FT111, FT237, F260, FT366 and FT504
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 24 May 1921, GBP 50, no.9958
Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 87 as 'Near the turnpike coming from Low Wood to Ambleside'
[?] Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1921, no. 41 as 'Ambleside'
Peintures et Aquarelles 1700-1900 du Musee de Birmingham, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, 1966, no. 120
Two Centuries of English Painting, National Gallery, Prague; National Slovak Gallery, Bratislava, 1969, no. 138
The Discovery of the Lake District, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1984, no. 85
The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880, Royal Academy of Arts, 1993, no. 275
City of Birmingham Art Gallery, Catalogue of the Permanent Collection of Paintings in Oil, Tempera, Water-Colour, etc.: Birmingham, 1930, pp. 196-197
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 168
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 134


This is a view looking north or north-north-west from the road going south from Ambleside to Bowness, along the north-east shore of Windermere. The turnpike gate was near the southern outskirts of Ambleside in the area of Waterhead. From left to right the hills in Towne’s inscription are now known as Heron Pike, Dove Crag, Fairfield Horseshoe, Low Pike and High Pike, and Red Screes. Towne’s inscription “Read Crease” for Red Screes suggests that he was making a phonetic transcription from the descriptions given by a local guide.

There is evidence of late work in the foreground clusters of foliage.

by Richard Stephens

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