Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Le Chapeau and the Aiguille du Bochard
  • La Chapérieux
ca. 1781/09/16
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour, scratching out
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 209mm
the paper with bookbinding holes along its top edge
  • sheet, verso
  • “La Chaperieux & L’aigle Le bouchard / No.51 / Francis Towne / Septr. 16, 1781”
  • the words “La Chaperieux &” in ink over pencil, “L’aigle” in pencil only, the rest in ink only
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum 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 (BP86). On 24 September 1935 (January 1936 according to the Barton Place catalogue) Judith Merivale sold it for £4 to Agnew’s (no.1792), where it was purchased on 23 October 1935 for £6 by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2110), whose descendants sold it in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery (T08573).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T08573
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 23 October 1935, GBP 6, no.1792
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 24 September 1935, GBP 4, no. 1792
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP86
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP86
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 16
Exhibition of Works from The Paul Oppe Collection, Royal Academy, 1958, no. 87
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 145
Peter Bower, 'Drawing Paper in the 18th and 19th centuries: Papers from the Opp_ Collection, part 2', The Quarterly Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians: [?] London, 1998, p. 19


The Chapeau is a fir-covered limestone precipice on the north-east side of the Mer de Glace glacier, towards its southern end (which was known as the Glacier du Bois). The Chapeau rises to a peak known as the Aiguille du Bochard, not shown here but visible in Towne’s larger drawing of the Source of the Arveyron (FT340). Evidently Towne considered the Bochard peak as part of the same structure as the Chapeau. Beyond the Chapeau, which covers the right portion of the drawing, is part of the Aiguilles Rouges, covering the left portion, which were situated on the opposite side of the Chamonix valley. Towne’s sketching position is some way up Montanvert, on which mountain he made other works on the same day (certainly FT383, probably FT337, FT339, FT386). Given the lighting on the Aiguilles Rouges, Towne must have made the drawing in the morning, during his ascent. The Aiguilles Rouges are shown during the afternoon of the same day in Towne’s smaller view of the Source of the Aveyron (FT339). 

Bower describes this drawing as being mounted on Whatman paper, but there is in fact no mount.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Bower 1998, p.19.

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