Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Other Source of the Rhine
ca. 1781/08/30 - 1781
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 286mm,
  • image length 468mm
  • sheet, verso
  • “the other source of the Rhine / Bas Rhin / Sun on the left Hand / No.21 August the 30th. 1781 / sun on the left hand”
  • in pencil except the central portion, “Bas [. . .] 1781”, which is in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; 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 (BP66). Judith Merivale presented it to Dr K. T. Parker for donation to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the present owner, in June 1945 (DBB1822).

Associated People & Organisations

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, June 1945, DBB1822
Judith Merivale presented it to Dr K. T. Parker for donation to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP66
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP66
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Annual Water Colour Exhibition 1926, The Judge's Lodgings, Winchester, 1926, no. 116
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. 130


Brown states that this drawing “probably shows Lake Toma in the St Gothard Group, from which rises the Vorder Rhein”. However, there seems to be too much choppy movement in the water, in too narrow a channel, for this to be a lake, and Towne cannot have reached the area of Lake Toma on the same day that he visited Reichenau (FT364), and only a day after having crossed the Splugen Pass (FT332, FT357). It is probably therefore a view of the Vorderrhein near Reichenau. In describing the subject as “the other source of the Rhine”, Towne was not indicating that the sketch was made near the source of the Vorderrhein but that the Vorderrhein was the second of two sources of the Rhine, which joined at Reichenau. Towne had sketched the first of the sources, the Hinterrhein, the previous day.

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.