Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Glacial Valley of Glarus
  • Glaciers near Glarus, Switzerland
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 285mm,
  • image length 465mm
  • sheet, recto
  • “snow” and “snow” (middle), “snow” (left)
  • background
  • sheet, verso
  • “Glacieres of Glaris, Light on the right hand 2 o clock / Septr. 3 rd. 1781 / No. 27 Francis Towne”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination (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 (BP74). In 1933 Judith Merivale sold it to Squire Gallery for £8 and by 1959 it was owned by John Trevor Roberts, 2nd Lord Clwyd (1900–1987), whose descendants in 1997 lent it to the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, where it remains (L.1997.3).

Associated People & Organisations

Manchester Museum & the Whitworth, University of Manchester, Manchester, 1997, L.1997.3
2nd Baron Clwyd John Trevor Roberts (1900 - 1987)
Squire Gallery, London, 1933, GBP 8
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP74
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP74
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Early English Water-colours from the Collection of Lord Clwyd, Leighton House, 1959, no. 95
William Coxe, Travels in Switzerland in a Series of Letters to William Melmouth Esq, T. Cadell: London, 1789, vol 1, p. 50


This drawing shows the southern point of Glarus, a sight of great drama described by Coxe as

an amphitheatre of mountains, where the valley ended: on our right had a fall more considerable than any we had yet seen, tumbling down perpendicularly over a bare rock in a large body of water; the alps on each side crowned with inaccessible forests, and covered with everlasting snow; before us a pyramidical mountain, bare and craggy; and the glaciers of Glarus closing the view. Here the valley, and the habitable part of the canton, terminate.1 

A drawing by John Robert Cozens from his 1776 tour may represent the same scenery.2 This is an early afternoon view, so probably he made it having visited nearby Pantenbruck in the morning.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Coxe 1789, vol.1, p.50.
  2. 2 Reproduced in Bell & Girtin 1935, pl.vii(a).

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