Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Near Canonteign
ca. 1773 - 1790
Pencil, watercolour, gum
  • image width 204mm,
  • image length 291mm
an oval on a rectangular sheet
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “(Francis / Towne)”
  • in Emily Buckingham’s hand
  • sheet, verso
  • “Louisa”
  • in Emily Buckingham’s hand
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 granddaughter Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923) inherited the drawing in ca. 1915. It was acquired on 30 September 1935, lot 29, for £1 8s. 6d. (with FT055, FT064, FT146) by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2105) from the Merivale family and sold by his descendants in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery, London (T09086).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T09086
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), 30 September 1935, GBP 1.8s 6d , no.2105
Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1925
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148


The attribution of this drawing has been questioned,1 but it is here catalogued as Towne’s work. It is close to FT031, dated 1773, and may be considered to be a reworking of the same composition but in a style comparable with Towne’s watercolours of the late 1780s and 1790s (for example FT555, FT556, FT560, FT591), in which he moved away from his long-standing reliance on a strong pen line and sought to discover the expressive capabilities of the brush alone. Various areas have been reimagined, with the trees foreground left and mid-ground centre substantially altered from the 1773 source. 

John White Abbott made a watercolour at this spot in 1800.2

The meaning of the inscription is unclear, but possibly it denotes Louisa Buckingham (b.1850), Emily Buckingham’s sister, who may have owned the drawing. One other drawing was inscribed in this way (FT519).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 In conversation (late 1990s), Tim Wilcox judged it to be the work of a pupil.
  2. 2 John White Abbott, Near Canonteign, 1800 (Sotheby’s).

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