Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of the Cataract of the Mawddwy
  • Cataract of the Mothvay
Pen and grey ink, watercolour, scratching out
  • image width 318mm,
  • image length 432mm
four sheets of laid paper.
mounted by the artist (but since detached)
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “No.14 / F.Towne delt / 1777”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.14 / A View of the Cataract of the Mothvaye / in Merionethshire North Wales / drawn on the spot / by / Francis Towne / 1777 / London / Leicester Square / June 20th 1777” in ink and “Mawdach Rhaiadr Mawdach [indistinct]”
  • in pencil
  • sheet, verso
  • According to Christies in 2012
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Christie's 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 on her death it passed to her sister Frances Ann Laura Solly (b.1858), who sold it in May 1936 to Agnew’s (no.1990) for £30, where it was bought on 28 May 1936 by Wayland Wells Williams (1888–1945) of the USA for £42. By 1950 it had descended to Mrs Elizabeth Williams Garstin, and by 1962 to Mrs Cynthia Garstin Blackwell of Albuquerque, USA, whose estate sold it at Christie’s on 21 November 2007, lot 27, for £31,700 including fees to Andrew Wyld of W. S. Fine Art Ltd, where it was for sale in 2008 and 2009. It was offered for sale from Andrew Wyld’s estate (he died in 2011) by Christie’s on 10 July 2012, lot 60 (estimate £20,000 to £30,000), but it did not sell. Guy Peppiatt bought it after the sale and sold it in 2015.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 2015
Guy Peppiatt, 2012
Christie's, London, London, 10 July 2012, lot 60
Estimate £20,000 to £30,000, unsold.
W S Fine Art, London, 21 November 2007, GBP 31000
Christie's, London, London, 21 November 2007, lot 27
Cynthia Garstin Blackwell, 1962
Elizabeth Williams Garstin, 1950
Wayland Wells Williams (1888 - 1945), 28 May 1936, GBP 42
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, May 1936, GBP 30, no. 1990
Frances Ann Laura Solly (1858 - alive in 1932), 1923
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. 46 as 'Cataract of the Mothvay'
Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1922, no. 120
The 49th Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School In Aid of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1922, no. 7
The Fiftieth Annual Exhibition of Selected Water Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1923, no. 22
Art in New England: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from Private Collections in New England, Museum of Fine Arts, 1939, no. 632
Prospects: An Exhibition of English Landscape Watercolours from English and American Private Collections, Yale University Gallery, 1950, no. 60
Watercolours and Drawings, W/S Fine Art Ltd Andrew Wyld, 2005, no. 2008 and 2009 Summer Exhibitions, no.9 in both cases
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 151
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 43
Henry Penruddocke Wyndham, A Tour Through Monmouthshire and Wales Made in the Months of June and July 1774 and in the months of June, July and August 1777: Salisbury, 1781, pp. 114-115


This waterfall is about two miles off the road running north from Penmaenpool to Tan y Bwlch (FT084, FT113). Wyndham promoted the falls, which were evidently less celebrated than others in the area like Pistyll Rhaeadr (FT071) and Rhaiddr Du (FT082). 

That of the Mothvaye forms two very broad sheets of water, divided about half-way down, by a ridge in the rock; while each half is beautifully broken by frequent crags projecting through it. The whole fall may be about 70 to 80 feet in length. . . . [It was] to be found near a farm house, called Tyd y Gwladys, which lies in one of the roads from Dolgelly to Tan Y Bwlch.1

Dollgellau was in the Hundred of Mawddwy and the “Mothvaye” is here transcribed with that spelling.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wyndham 1781, pp.114–15.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.