Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Bay of Naples
ca. 1781/03
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 234mm,
  • image length 318mm
paper watermarked with a fleur de list within a coronet design
  • sheet, verso
  • “Bay of Naples / 21” in black ink and "Francis Towne" in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the work


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 (BP34). Judith Merivale sold it to Squire Gallery in August 1936 for £4 10s., from where Sir Bruce Sterling Ingram (1877–1963) probably bought it, as he owned the drawing by 1937. Ingram retained the drawing until his death, when it was acquired by the present owner, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (no.1821).

Associated People & Organisations

Ashmolean Museum
Sir Bruce Stirling Ingram (1877 - 1963)
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
Squire Gallery
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
Masters of Maritime Art. A Second Loan Exhibition from the Collection of Capt. Bruce S. Ingram OBE MC, P&D Colnaghi, London, 1937, no. 45
English Drawings Purchased from the Collection of Sir Bruce Ingram, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1963, no. 92
Original Eyes, Tate Gallery, London, 1991
David Blaney Brown, Ashmolean Museum Catalogue of Drawings Vol 4: Earlier English Drawings, Clarendon: Oxford, 1982, p. 628
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 144
Luke Herrmann, British Landscape Painting of the 18th Century, Faber: London, 1973, p. 77


In his catalogue of the Ashmolean collection, Brown sees in Towne's thin band of land on the horizon “a general impression of harbour buildings (perhaps a distant view of Naples from the south east)”.

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.