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Francis Towne (Middlesex 1739-1816 London)
Francis Towne (Middlesex 1739-1816 London)

The West Front of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire

Francis Towne (Middlesex 1739-1816 London)
The West Front of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire
signed and dated 'F. Towne, delt 1777 No. 49, (lower right)
pencil, pen and grey ink, and watercolour
11½ x 14½ in. (29.2 x 36.8 cm.)
John Herman Merivale (bequeathed to him by the artist).
John Lewis Merivale.
George Montague Merivale.
Angel Merivale.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 15 July 1975, lot 40B.
A.P. Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', in Walpole Society, VIII, 1919, pp. 105-8.
A. Bury, Francis Towne: Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, London, 1962, p. 29.

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Hélène Rihal
Hélène Rihal

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Lot Essay

This watercolour was executed during Towne's tour of Wales in June 1777 in the company of one of his closest friends, John White. It was Towne's first tour outside his native Devon and he must have been inspired by the drama and vastness of the scenery before him and by the numerous romantic ruins populating the Welsh countryside.

Towne was in the habit of numbering the finished drawings and watercolours that he produced whilst on his sketching tours. The drawings on this tour appear to go up to 'No 54', a view of Glastonbury Abbey, made on his return to Devon at the end of July. The present drawing, numbered 49, was executed towards the end of his visit.

This watercolour was given to John Herman Merivale, the son of John Merivale, another close friend of the artist. On the death of Towne's executor James White, the artist's estate passed intact to John Herman Merivale. The majority of Towne's watercolours and drawings remained with the Merivale family until well into the 20th Century. Nearly 300 works were with the family and were catalogued by Paul Oppé in 1915, the present watercolour amongst them.


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