Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Monte Legnone, on Lake Como
ca. 1781/08/27
Pencil, pen and black ink, blue, grey and red washes
  • image width 155mm,
  • image length 210mm
dimensions are given for the image only, which is on a larger sheet of laid paper
  • sheet, verso
  • “No.23 / Monte Lenoni / Lake of Como / light from the right hand / Isle des de let / Francis Towne / August the 27th 1781”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the work


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 (probably BP54). In 1929 Judith Merivale gave it to her nephew Alexander Merivale (b.1901) and his wife, Elizabeth, probably as a wedding present (see also FT317, FT491). It was sold, probably by them or their heirs, at Sotheby’s on 26 March 1975, lot 238, for £380 to the vendor at Sotheby’s on 9 November 1995, lot 49, where it was purchased by the Louvre, Paris, the current owner.

Associated People & Organisations

Alexander Merivale (born 1901)
Elizabeth Merivale
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
Sotheby's, London
James White (1744 - 1825)


Monte Legnone is near the right bank of the north-east part of Lake Como, opposite Dongo on the left bank. The meaning of “Isle des de let” is unknown. 

This is one of two versions of this composition (the other being FT317), both of which are from the Barton Place collection, numbered BP53 and BP54. It is uncertain whether this work or FT317 is BP53, but Oppé’s descriptions of BP53 and BP54 make it more likely that FT315 is BP54 and FT317 is BP53. Although BP53 is numbered 23, as is FT315, Oppé’s note of it reads “outline erased cloud & hills”, which does not fit well with FT315, as its outline is not erased. By contrast, his description of BP54, “full outline thro’out. A very close copy [of BP53]”,1 seems more consistent with the drawing here. Furthermore, FT315 is on a larger sheet of paper than others in the small series, which suggests the copy rather than the original, especially as Towne had not used up all the sheets of the sketchbook by 27 August 1781. If FT315 is indeed a copy, it raises the question of whether Towne made the drawing in Switzerland or at a later date. No doubt this is the “fascsimile drawing, by Towne, of one of the first series with the inscription reproduced on the back”, noted in Oppé’s article.2 It is one of a small number of examples where Towne is known to have made a second version of a drawing other than as a commission (see also FT046, FT397a).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.
  2. 2 Oppé 1920, p.116.

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