Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • At Keswick, looking towards Skiddaw
ca. 1786/08
Pen and grey and brown inks, watercolour, gum
  • image width 102mm,
  • image length 162mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / 1786”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.30 at Keswick looking towards Skiddaw” and dated “1786”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Bury 1962; Examination; Lowell Libson (image)


In 1962 it was owned by John White Abbott, a descendant of Towne’s pupil John White Abbott, in which case it was probably once owned either by White Abbott himself or else by his uncle, James White of Exeter, whose heir he was. It was on sale with Davis and Langdale of New York in 2011, where it was purchased by Lowell Libson. In view of its American provenance, it is probably the drawing that Spink acquired on 22 February 1980, probably from the White Abbott family (who sold drawings to Spink in 1981), and that Spink called Travellers on a country road in a mountainous landscape. On 26 February 1980 Spink sold it on to a US collector for £2,800. The Spink description fits this drawing in other respects, too: it was the same size, had an eighteenth-century mount, and the medium was given as pen and brown ink and watercolour.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection
Lowell Libson, New York, 2011
Davis and Langdale Company Inc., New York, 2011
[?] Private Collection, 22 February 1980, GBP 2800
[?] Spink & Son, London, 22 February 1980
Described as 'Travellers on a country road in a mountainous landscape'
[?] John White Abbott (1763 - 1851)
[?] James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 57, Going from Lowdore looking towards Skiddaw
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 86
Recent Acquisitions, Davis and Langdale, 2011
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 151 as Keswick, Looking Towards Skiddaw; water-colour 4 x 6 3/8in. Inscribed No.30 at Keswick looking towards Skiddaw. 1786


Skiddaw is north of Keswick, which is itself at the north end of Derwent Water. Lodore is at the southern end and was the standard viewpoint for Skiddaw. As Towne called Derwent Water “Keswick Lake”, his inscription here may describe a view on the lake looking to Skiddaw.

There are some grounds for thinking that this drawing was shown by Towne at his 1805 exhibition at Lower Brook Street, London. Exhibit 57 was called Going from Lowdore looking towards Skiddaw and may well have been from the very small series of Lake District views, as Towne seems to have begun his group of Lake District exhibits with examples from that series. The prominence of the road in the drawing catalogued here places the process of travel at the heart of the scene, which is also reflected in the title of exhibit 57.

by Richard Stephens

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