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

View of the mountains between Wesen and Glaris, Switzerland

Francis Towne (Middlesex 1739-1816 London)
View of the mountains between Wesen and Glaris, Switzerland
inscribed and dated 'A View going from Wesen to Glaris./ No. 23 Septr. 1.st 1781/ light from the right hand in/ the evening' (verso) and with inscription '68 BP' (verso in the hand of Paul Oppé)
pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash, watermark 'C HONIG'
11 3/8 x 18 3/8 in. (28 x 46.7)
Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to
James White of Exeter (1744-1825) and by bequest to
John Herman Merivale (1779-1844) and by descent in the family to
The Misses Maria Sophia and Judith Ann Merivale, by 1915, by whom sold to
Agnew's, 27 February 1935 (£8).
with Agnew's, London, where purchased 27 February 1935 by W.B. Dalton (12 gns).
with Leger Galleries, London, 1982.
T. Wilcox, Francis Towne, London, 1997, p. 97, under no. 40.
R. Stephens, A catalogue raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), online edition, no. 365.

Brought to you by

Iona Ballantyne
Iona Ballantyne

Lot Essay

Towne reached the Lake of Walenstadt on the morning of 1 September 1787, a drawing of the Lake of Walenstadt taken from Wesen was sold in these Rooms, 5 June 2003, lot 46. Towne then continued along the road that skirts the southern edge of the lake as it turns sharply left to the Glaris Valley. The present drawing was executed in the evening of the same day. Towne has drawn the view looking west across the western edge of the lake into the canton of Schwyz. The mountain on the right of the composition is the Federispitz. Towne would return to Glaris again as he continued on to the Swiss Lakes on 4 September. Another drawing, no. 24 from the series, executed on the same day as the present work is in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery while no. 25, Near Glaris, light from the right hand in the morning, executed on the morning of 2 September, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Towne was clearly elated by the view that greeted him on the road. His method of drawing 'on the spot’, which was unusual at this time, allowed him to capture his intense reactions to the vistas as they presented themselves to him. Towne's draftsmanship in the present work is crisp and with an economy of line perfectly suited to the strong outline of the mountain range. His consummate skill as a watercolourist is displayed in the contrasting light and dark washes used for the mountain ranges that loomed ahead. Towne has filled the large sheet; emphasising the grandeur of the mountains which dwarf the trees. The evening light flooding in from the right hand side has plunged the nearer range into shadow while the distant mountains are still illuminated.

There is a copy of the central portion of the present watercolour (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) by Towne's friend and pupil John White Abbott, and John Warwick Smith's version of the same view is in the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield.

We are grateful to Timothy Wilcox and Richard Stephens for their help with this catalogue entry.

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