Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Wenlock Priory
  • English Landscape with Ruins (Powderham)
ca. 1777
Pen and ink, monochrome wash
  • image width 267mm,
  • image length 349mm
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Wenlock Priory
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it reverted 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 (BP256, “ruins (very early)”). Judith Merivale attempted to sell it in the 1930s via Squire Gallery but the drawing was returned unsold in October 1939. On 12 July 1945 H. B. Milling (of Squire Gallery) sold it to Colnaghi (no.A13152), who sold it on 4 November 1947 for £20 to Gilbert Davis (1899–1983), who sold it to the present owner, the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (59.55.1272).

Associated People & Organisations

Huntington Library, San Marino, California, San Marino
Gilbert Davis (1899 - 1983), 4 November 1947, GBP 20
P&D Colnaghi & Co, London, London, 4 November 1945
Horace Bernard Milling (1898 - 1954), London, 12 July 1945
Squire Gallery, London
Judith Merivale attempted to sell it in the 1930s via the Squire Gallery but the drawing was returned unsold in October 1939
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP256
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP256
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 138, listed as 'English Landscape with Ruins (Powderham)'


Although the drawing has been catalogued by its owner as an early view of Powderham, this is a version of a view of Wenlock Priory (FT070) in Shropshire, made in 1777. However, with a sharpness and vigour more associated with slightly monochrome studies, it probably dates from the early 1780s and may be connected with commissioned watercolours of Shropshire, including a view of Wenlock Priory, dated 1783 (FT396, FT397; see also FT397a). That study differs somewhat from the 1777 version, in which the three elements of building appear flatter and of more even height than here. In this drawing Towne has sought to give additional depth to the composition by increasing the size of the ruin at the right and decreasing the central tower, making it appear more distant.

by Richard Stephens

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