Francis Towne (1739-1816)
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Francis Towne (1739-1816)

Lake of Lugano, Switzerland

Francis Towne (1739-1816)
Lake of Lugano, Switzerland
signed, inscribed, dated and numbered 'No. 3/A View of the Lake of Lugano taken from Mendris/Porto the Town/Light from the right hand/August 24th. 1781/Francis Towne' (on the reverse)
pen and brown ink and grey wash, watermark 'C & I HONIG'
11¼ x 18¼ in. (28.6 x 46.3 cm.)
J.H. Merivale, and by descent in the family. .
Sir Edward Marsh.
with Spink, London, where purchased by Sir William A. Worsley, January 1947, £80 and by descent in the family.
A. Bury, Francis Towne Lone Star of Water-colour, London, 1962, pp. 88, 142, illustrated, p. 90.
W.A. Worsley, Early English Water-Colours at Hovingham Hall, 1963, no. 51.
Bucharest, British Drawings, 1935-36.
York, City of York Art Gallery, Watercolours of Francis Towne, January 1950, no. 19.
Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery, Exhibition of Early English Watercolours, 1958. no. 95.
Special notice
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Sale room notice
The present watercolour was also included in an exhibition in Vienna, 1927, Tokyo, Institute of Art Research, English Watercolours, 1929 and at the Royal Academy, British Art, 1934.

We are grateful to Richard Stephens for this information.

Lot Essay

Towne together with John 'Warwick' Smith left Rome around the beginning of August, and although it took them three weeks to reach the Italian Lakes, there are very few drawings which can be dated to this period of the journey. Then suddenly, as they came within sight of the lakes, both artists set to work with enormous vigour and industry: Towne produced at least 28 drawings in five days. Eleven of these (or possibly twelve; this work in the numbered sequence is missing and the subject is unknown) were made in a large sketchbook measuring 46 x 26cm. It had evidently been reserved until the beginning of this important phase of the journey, as the drawing numbered 1 was a view of Mendrisio, dated 24 August 1781 (Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada).

As Towne and Smith proceeded on their way towards Lugano, Towne made this view of the lake, in the same large format. The water is glimpsed through a lush screen of late summer foliage, while beyond Towne recorded a first sight of the enfolding hills and mountains in which he was to spend most of the next month. At Bissone, further up the lake, Towne made two smaller drawings; toward the end of the day, he came within sight of Lugano itself and began the view of the town across the lake (see lot 39).

The present drawing was bought by Sir William Worsley at the same time as the view of the Lake of Lugano, lot 39.


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