Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Porlock Bay
ca. 1785/10
Pen and black ink, blue and grey washes
  • image width 303mm,
  • image length 241mm
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Brown 1982 (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 (BP216) and in 1924 sold it for £12 12s. to Alic Halford Smith (1883–1958). Smith bequeathed it to the present owner, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (WA1959.12.2).

Associated People & Organisations

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1958, WA1959.12.2
Alic Halford Smith (1883 - 1958), 1924, GBP 12.12s
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP216
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP216
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Eighteenth Century Master Drawings from the Ashmolean, Baltimore Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth; Cincinnati Art Museum; and Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 1979, no. 27
David Blaney Brown, Ashmolean Museum Catalogue of Drawings Vol 4: Earlier English Drawings, Clarendon: Oxford, 1982, p. 160 (as by John White Abbott)


The Barton Place catalogue gives no indication of the location of this bay, calling it simply “A Bay Indian ink & blue wash”. The museum has catalogued this as the work of John White Abbott, but it is clearly Towne’s drawing. As it is a view of Porlock Bay, it was probably drawn in October 1785 around the time of two other Porlock studies (FT437, FT438).

by Richard Stephens

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.