Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Pantenbruck
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 279mm,
  • image length 457mm
  • sheet, recto
  • “glaciere”
  • at the summit of mountain
  • sheet, verso
  • “Panten-Bruck, a bridge over the cataract that forms the summit which is called / the Sand-bach, this bridge is a single arch of Stone of about 70 feet in Length thrown over / a Precipice of about 300 feet in depth. Distance Glaciers of Glaris / No.28 / September 3rd 1781 morning light from the right Hand / Francis Towne”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
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 (BP75). On 7 February 1934 Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.11570) for £8, where it was bought (on 6 February according to Agnew’s) for £11 by A. E. Anderson, from whom it was acquired in June 1934 by the present owner, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum (no.2209).

Associated People & Organisations

Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead Wirral, June 1934, no.2209
A. E. Anderson (active 1934), 6 February 1934, GBP 11
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 7 February 1934, GBP 8, no.11570
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Annual Exhibition of Water-Colours & Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1934, no. 83
The Great Period of British Watercolour from Turner to Burne-Jones, Museo d'Arte della citta; Gainsborough's House, 2004, no. 45
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 138
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, pp. 164-165
William Coxe, Travels in Switzerland in a Series of Letters to William Melmouth Esq, T. Cadell: London, 1789, vol 1, pp. 50-52


As “Sandbach” is the name given to the southern part of the River Linth, which travels north–south through Glarus, and is not the name of a mountain, it seems that Towne’s ostensibly misleading inscription must have identified Sandbach with the cataract, not the summit. Towne’s view seems to be a southerly view at Pantenbruck, looking towards the mountain of Todi and the Biferten Glacier. Pantenbruck is two hours’ walk from Linthal and Towne would have passed it en route to the site of FT369, the southern end of Glarus. However, as the lighting suggests a north view, the topographical details must remain unresolved. See also the Comment at FT333.

The confusion in Towne’s description comes from his use of the travel writings of William Coxe, a French translation of which was among Towne’s effects in 1816.1 As French editions of Coxe were published in 1781 and 1787, it is very possible that Towne used the book as he travelled through Switzerland. For the inscription on this drawing, though, clearly Towne had access to the text in English, as he has copied phrases directly from it. The opening statement of his inscription, however, has been mistranscribed from Coxe’s account: 

We came to the Panten-Bruck, a bridge over the cataract that forms the Linth, which is here called the Sand-bach: it roars from the glacier down the steep mountain in one unbroken fall; and, a little before its arrival under the bridge, works itself a subterraneous passage through the rock, where it is lost only to appear again with increased violence and precipitation. The bridge is a single arch of stone, of about seventy feet in length, thrown over a precipice of about three hundred feet in depth. It serves as a communication with the upper alps, and is the passage for the cattle which are fed there during the summer months . . . As I leaned upon the parapet of the bridge, and looked down into the chasm beneath, my head almost turned giddy with the height.2
by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Published in Wilcox 1997, pp.164–65.
  2. 2 Coxe 1789, vol.1, pp.50–52.

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