Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • From the West India Docks, Blackwall
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour
  • image height 108mm,
  • image width 181mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “from / the West India / Docks Blackwall / June the 9th. 1813 afternoon / light from the right hand / Francis Towne”
Part of
  • 1812-1815 Sketchbook
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 granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 within a sketchbook containing 733 to 751. Probably the book was among the “two small sketchbooks and five small drawings late in date” that Judith Merivale sold to Squire Gallery in 1945 for £50. On 29 August 1945 it was bought from the Fine Art Society (no.4065) for £26 5s. by Sir William Worsley, Bt (1890–1973), whose family offered it for sale at Christie’s on 20 November 1984, lot 79, but did not sell. They sold it at Christie’s on 5 June 2003, lot 15, for £2,400, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 5 June 2003, GBP 2400
Christie's, London, London, 5 June 2003, lot 15
Christie's, London, London, 20 November 1984, lot 79
Sir William Worsley (1890 - 1973), 29 August 1945, GBP 26.5s
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 29 August 1945, no.4065
[?] Squire Gallery, London, 1945, GBP 50
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
Inherited within a sketchbook containing FT733 to FT751.
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Watercolours by Francis Towne, City Art Gallery, 1950, no. 11
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 95,141
Sir William Worsley, Early English Water-Colours at Hovingham Hall: 1963, p. 9


The West India Docks at Blackwall Reach were part of London’s vast trade and shipping infrastructure. The purpose of Towne’s visit is unknown but perhaps he was receiving an import of some sort.

by Richard Stephens

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