John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
  • Sketchbook of Devon Views
Pen and ink, or pen and ink and wash, one pencil
  • cover
  • “Views principally in the neighbourhood of Exeter – in the Month of September 1810”
  • in ink, inscriptions in dark brown ink throughout
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records


Untraced until given by F. W. Smith in 1957 to the current owner, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (49.1957.2).

Associated People & Organisations

Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, 1957, 49.1957.2
F. W. Smith
Exhibition History
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 86
Jane C. Baker, Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, Exeter Museums: Exeter, 1978, p.93 (as by John Merivale, father of the artist)


This book contains sketches in the vicinity of Exeter that Merivale made in September and October 1810 while on a holiday. Most or all of these sketches seem to have been made on day trips rather than on longer excursions from home. On 14 September Merivale was sketching in fields above Poltimore, a few miles north-east of Exeter. The following Tuesday he was at Mount Radford, and a week later, 25 September, at Little Fulford near Crediton, north-west of Exeter. A day later he produced a sketch of Weircliff, the house that his father had built near Cowley Bridge just north of Exeter; on Thursday 27th he was a couple of miles further up the River Creedy at Newton St Cyres, where he was also sketching on 3 October. On 1 October Merivale was sketching at Pinhoe, Clyst House, and Poleslow House just east of Exeter and at Pynes on 2 October. Merivale and his wife returned to London before the end of October, as letters were sent to them by other Merivales reassuring them that their young sons, who had stayed behind in Devon, were in good health.1

There is a second version of the sketch of Little Fulford, with a washline mount.

Inscriptions here are quite neat in ink, mid-way between the early and late styles of the 1801 inscriptions.

The sketches are in three states: pen and ink outlines with Towne-like tightly drawn curls of foliage; pen and ink outlines with the addition of grey/brown wash; and pen and ink outlines with grey/brown and blue washes. The sketches show Merivale’s progress as a sketcher since 1801: the compositions are tighter, more complex, better lit than in his earlier book (FT888). He was worthy of emulation within his family group as a copy of the sketch of Mount Radford is known, apparently made by his sister Frances (FT884). The sketch of Little Fulford, which is stuck onto the cover of the book, is itself a copy of one of the sheets within it.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Merivale letters, transcript at Wordsworth Trust.

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.