Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Rydal Water looking towards Rydal Hall
Pencil (?), pen and ink, watercolour
  • image width 267mm,
  • image length 381mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F. Towne delt 1786”r left "F. Towne delt 1786"verso of the artist's mount: "No.6 A view of Rydal Water looking towards Rydal Hall, Ambleside in Westmoland, drawn by Francis Towne, August 8th 1786. Mounted August 2nd 1790 Leicester Square"
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.6 A view of Rydal Water looking towards Rydal Hall, Ambleside in Westmoland, drawn by Francis Towne, August 8th 1786. Mounted August 2nd 1790 Leicester Square”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum 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 granddaughter Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) inherited the drawing in 1915 and sold it on 17 June 1921 to Agnew’s (no.10020) for £40, where it was bought the same day by J. F. Walmsley for £55. On 29 July 1921 Walmsley sold it back to Agnew’s (no.10064), where it was bought the same day for £55 by the current owner, Towneley Hall Art Gallery & Museum (WA/CO22).

Associated People & Organisations

Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Burnley, 29 July 1921, GBP 55, WA/CO22
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 29 July 1921, no.10064
J. F. Walmsley, 17 June 1921, GBP 55
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 17 June 1921, GBP 40, no.10020
Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 138


This is a view of Rydal Water from the west, with the road between Ambleside and Keswick prominent on the left. The white exterior of the Cote How building is visible in the centre distance, a little set back from the water’s edge; Rydal Hall, though mentioned by Towne in the inscription, is not visible. Much the same view is visible in FT520, dated 11 August. Thomas Sunderland drew the same view in ca. 1798 (exhibited by Guy Peppiatt in 2007, no.21). 

This is the only numbered drawing known to have been made on the large paper that, as Towne noted elsewhere (for example FT515), he had purchased in Rome some years earlier—although a view of Borrowdale Chapel, on a somewhat smaller sheet, is numbered 7 (FT513a) and may form part of the same series. It may be no more than a coincidence that, while the main Lake District series, numbered between 1 and 40, survives almost in its entirety, number 6 is missing, and the adjacent drawings in the series depict views at Rydal Park and Rydal Water. Perhaps, therefore, Towne contemplated making this larger drawing part of the series.

by Richard Stephens

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