Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of the Arch in Peamore Park looking towards the House
1775/08/17 - 1776
Pencil, pen and grey and black inks, grey wash
  • image width 444mm,
  • image length 474mm
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked with a fleur de lis design
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “Francis Towne 1776”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No3, / A View of the Arch in Peamore Park / looking towards the House, drawn / on the spot August the 17th. 1775 / by Francis Towne.”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Untraced until sold by Frederick Hollyer (1837/1838–1933) at Sotheby’s on 26 November 1929, lot 131. According to the files at Birmingham Museum, it was subsequently acquired by Leonard Duke (1889–1971), possibly direct from Sotheby’s (although it does not feature in Duke’s catalogue of his collection). Squire Gallery subsequently acquired the drawing, perhaps from Duke, and sold it to J. Leslie Wright (1862–1953), who bequeathed it to the present owner, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (P400'53).

Associated People & Organisations

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1953, P400'53
James Leslie Wright (1862 - 1953)
Squire Gallery, London
Leonard Duke (1889 - 1971)
It was acquired by Leonard Duke possibly direct from Sotheby's
Sotheby's, London, London, 26 November 1929, lot 131
Frederick Hollyer (1837/38 - 1933)
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Early English Water-colours from the Collection of J.Leslie Wright Esq. and Walter Turner Esq., City Art Gallery, 1938, no. 37d
Exhibition of Masters of British Water-Colour (17th-19th Centuries) The J. Leslie Wright Collection, Royal Academy, 1949, no. 138
English Watercolours and Drawings: The J.Leslie Wright Bequest [catalogue indexed as 'Rose 1980'], Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, 1980, no. 65
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 4
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 148
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 135
Travels in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete, ed. Todd Gray and Margery Rowe (ed.), Devon Books in association with Halgrove: Tiverton, 1997, p. 55
Benjamin Donn, 'A Map of the County of Devon', Benjamin Donn: A Commemorative Volume, Devon and Cornwall Record Society and The University of Exeter: Exeter, 1965, plate 7b
Mike Matthews, Alfred Hippisley, Ivan Fitzroy Hippisley Jones and others, Brief History of the Hippisley Family: 2004
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 41


Peamore was an estate just south of Exeter, and “a spot of no common beauty”.1 From the 1740s it was the home of the Hippisley Coxe family, after John Hippisley Cox’s marriage to Mary, daughter and heiress of Stephen Northeigh of Peamore. Richard Hippisley Coxe (1742–1786, MP for Somerset 1768–84) was born at Peamore and inherited the estate on his father’s death in 1769.2 Coxe was in poor health from 1775—indeed he was declared insane in 1784. This drawing is surely a work commissioned by Coxe and evidently formed part a group numbering at least three.

Wilcox observed that the arch in Towne’s drawing was among landscape improvements undertaken in ca. 1750: “It provided a feature at the end of one of the principal pathways from the house (whose roof is glimpsed here in the distance) leading to the densely wooded higher ground known as ‘The Rock’.”3

Stylistically this drawing is comparable to A View at Pynes, 1778 (FT143), although here the description of the trees is far more complex. However, as Towne’s trees are usually masses of dense foliage where structural elements like tree trunks are insignificant, this work is fairly untypical. It is notable how Towne’s ideas of harmony, flow, and organisation are imposed on what is ostensibly a close study of nature. The eye is directed to foliage immediately above the arch through Towne’s creation of an oval shape bounded on the left by the foreground shadow, rising up towards the mid-level branch that extends right towards the centre of the page and whose boundary is carried on by a sagging branch of the main tree, which leads towards a small, swaying tree on the far right and returns to the left with the shaded mid-ground to the right of the arch. The role of this oval shape is to emphasise the area of blank sky at its centre, which draws the viewer’s eye into the space imagined by the picture.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Swete 1997, p.55; Donn 1965, pl.7b.
  2. 2 Matthews 2000.
  3. 3 Wilcox 1997, p.41.

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