Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • On the Lake of Lugano
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, grey wash
  • image width 154mm,
  • image length 210mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “On the Lake of Lugano / Light from the left hand / August 24th, 1781 / No.16 / Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink over pencil up to “1781”, thereafter ink only
Object Type
Monochrome wash

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 (BP47). In November 1935 Judith Merivale sold it to Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2112) for £15 with five other drawings (FT328, FT332, FT335, FT336, FT350). In 1996 Oppé’s heirs sold it with the rest of his collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery, London (T08562).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T08562
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, November 1935, GBP 15, no.2112
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP47
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP47
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. 3
Early English Drawings and Watercolours from the Collection of Paul Oppe Esq., Graves Art Gallery, 1952, no. 70
Exhibition of Works from The Paul Oppe Collection, Royal Academy, 1958, no. 98
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 146


This is the first surviving sketch of many that Towne made on the lakes of Lombardy in late August 1781. This may be one portion of a broader view of the lake, whose other parts are now lost.

by Richard Stephens

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