Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Coombe Martin
  • A Rocky Shore at Coombmartin, Devon (Combe Martin Bay)
Pencil (?), pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 245mm,
  • image length 348mm
presumably laid down onto a modern card as the museum gives further dimensions of 406 x 559mm.
  • sheet, verso
  • “Coombmartin / August the 26th 1783 / Francis Towne / Bay north west and south east”
  • in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Agnew's records (image); museum records


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 granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP189). In 1933 Judith Merivale sold it for £6 10s., to Squire Gallery, from whom it was presumably acquired by the Fine Art Society, where it was on sale from 1936. On 14 May 1937 it was purchased by Joseph de Carle Smith of Norwich (d. ca. 1980) for £21. It is thereafter untraced until it was sold at Phillips on 21 November 1988, lot 23, for £5,800 to Agnew’s, with whom it remained until at least 1993. In 2001 Donald Stone of New York gave it to the current owner, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2001.135.1).

Associated People & Organisations

NGA, Washington, Washington D.C., 2001, 2001.135.1
Donald Stone, New York, 2001
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 21 November 1988, GBP 5800
Phillips, London, 21 November 1988, lot 23
Joseph de Carle Smith ( - ca. 1980), Norwich, 14 May 1937, GBP 21
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 1936
Squire Gallery, London, 1933, GBP 6.10s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP189
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP189
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Annual Water Colour Exhibition 1926, The Judge's Lodgings, Winchester, 1926, no. 123
The Squire Gallery Summer Exhibition of Early English Watercolours & Drawings, Squire Gallery, 1934, no. 11
An Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1936, no. 28
Exhibition of Early English Water-Colour Drawings, Fine Art Society, 1937, no. 48
English Watercolours and Drawings Agnew's 120th Annual Exhibition, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1993, no. 16
The Artist's Vision: Romantic Traditions in Britain, National Gallery of Art, 2006


This is a picture of Combe Martin Bay, on the north coast of Devon near Berrynarbor, looking north-west from Combe Martin Beach. The road running to the right of the cottage is the same coast road from which FT439 was taken. The cove hidden behind the tree-covered bluff is Newberry Beach.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 This information was provided by Brian Pearce of the Exmoor National Parks Authority in email correspondence with the author, December 2005.

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.