Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • St John’s in the Vale looking towards Keswick
  • The Vale of St. John, in Cumberland
  • The Vale of St John
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 235mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “No 33 F.Towne / delt 1786”
  • sheet, verso
  • “The Vale of St.John in Cumberland looking towards Keswick with Saddleback in the Extreme Distance / drawn at 2 O’Clock No.33” and signed
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Christie's 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 (BP148). On 12 April 1946 Judith Merivale’s executors sold it to Agnew’s (no.4553), where on 30 April 1946 it was bought for £45 by Joseph Hawksley Elliot of Sheffield (1884–1978), whose daughter sold it at Christie’s on 14 March 1978, lot 81, for £5,800 to Leger Galleries, who sold it that December, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Leger Galleries, London, 14 March 1978, GBP 5800
Sold in December 1978
Christie's, London, London, 14 March 1978, lot 81
Joseph Hawksley Elliot (1884 - 1978), Sheffield, 30 April 1946, GBP 45
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 12 April 1946, no.4553
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP148
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP148
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 63, 64, or 65 as 'The Vale of St. John, in Cumberland', or 88 as 'The Vale of St John'
Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1921, no. 38
Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1922, no. [?] 86
The 49th Exhibition of Selected Watercolour Drawings by Artists of the Early English School In Aid of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1922, no. 100
Catalogue of a collection of pictures, drawings, furniture and works of art of the Empire and Regency period : select examples of Romano-British art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1929, no. 14
English Watercolours, Leger Galleries, 1978, no. 6
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, pp. 119-120


This is a view looking north into St John’s in the Vale, on the main road to Keswick, which is visible in the bottom-left corner. Blencathra is in the middle far distance, with Naddle Fell on the left. The view is similar to another Towne made at 5:00 pm the same day, which he numbered 36 (FT492). The foreground detailing suggests that it was amended late in life.

by Richard Stephens

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