Unidentified circle of Towne
  • The Watering Place, after Rubens
No date
Pen and ink, watercolour
  • image height 343mm,
  • image width 483mm
eighteenth-century washline mount
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Christie's records (image)


Untraced until sold anonymously at Foster’s on 27 July 1910, lot 151 (a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT319, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793), for 25s. to Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.54a) and sold by his descendants in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the current owner, the Tate Gallery (T09369).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T09369
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 27 July 1910, GBP 25s, no.54a
Foster's auctioneers (1883 - 1940), 27 July 1910, lot 151
Sold as a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT319, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793


Oil on oak, circa 1615-22

This is a copy of a ca. 1770 engraving by J. Browne of The Watering Place by Rubens. The museum’s attribution to Frances Merivale is based solely, it seems, on a very worn pencil inscription, perhaps of the eighteenth century, on the back of the mount: “Francis [or “Frances”] Towne”. Nearby are Oppé’s comments: “After treating this appalling thing for rubbish for 2 years I am now convinced that the inscription below – Francis Towne – is correct.” Elsewhere on the mount Oppé writes, “No, a copy from an early Towne. Perhaps he helped in the outline? Frances not Towne”, and an unknown hand has added, “Probably Frances Merivale”. The drawing was certainly made by at least two artists, as the trees and foliage on the far right are far stronger and more delicate than, for example, the cows and figures in the centre. Probably, as elsewhere, Towne added touches of his own to strengthen the pupil’s work. Frances Merivale was a pupil of Towne (FT884, FT885) but there is no reason to think of her as having created this work, and there is nothing to connect the group Oppé bought in 1910 with the Merivale family generally, though through the rest of the group’s connection with Towne we can surely infer some association between him and this drawing. It is presumably the kind of thing that he set his more capable students to copy.


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.