Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Exeter, taken between Exwick and Cowley Bridge
1773 - 1787
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 216mm,
  • image length 393mm
on two sheets of paper, watermarked "WHATMAN"
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • "F.Towne 1787. / delt"
  • artist's mount, verso
  • "A View of Exeter between Exwick, & Cowley bridge, / on the Hill looking towards Exeter, with the river on your left hand / this is the original outline, that the large picture was painted from / that was in the Exhibition 1773 / Francis Towne 1787". According to the Barton Place catalogue, the drawing is also numbered "1".
Object Type

Exeter from Exwick
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object

Barton Place catalogue, archives of Thomas Agnew & Sons

Museum's own information


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it reverted 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 (BP204). Judith Merivale sold it to Colonel Ransom Pickard (1867–1953) for £5 in 1932, in which year Pickard presented it to its current owner, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

Associated People & Organisations

John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
Colonel Ransom Pickard (1867 - 1953)
Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
Loan Exhibition of Works by Early Devon Painters Born Before the Year 1800, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1932, no. 117
Loan Exhibition: English Watercolours and Drawings from Local Collections, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1949, no. 11
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 81
Paintings and Drawings by Francis Towne and John White Abbott in the collection of Exeter Museums and Art Gallery, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1971, no. 7
Early Devon Painters: Forty Years On, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1972, no. 52
Francis Towne & John White Abbott: Paintings and Watercolours from the Exeter Museums and Art Gallery, Marble Hill House, 1973, no. 7
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 61-62, 133
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, pp. 100-101


As Towne’s inscription indicates, this sketch was the basis for the oil painting (FT019) he exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1773. Exwick and Cowley Bridge are north and north-east of Exeter. 

Although it has been reworked, it is still obvious how bare and functional Towne’s sketches for oil pictures were in the early 1770s (another early example is FT022), in contrast to those made at the end of the decade (for example FT153 and FT155), which show far more detail. The date of 1787 that Towne gave to this study is an early example of the habit of re-working older works that he developed in his final years, when he made extensive revisions to his Continental drawings. It also suggests the continuing relevance to Towne in 1787 - when he was on the cusp of re-engaging with the Royal Academy - of his earliest exhibits at the Society of Artists of Great Britain.

by Richard Stephens

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