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Francis Towne, 1740–1816
Lake Windermere
Materials & Techniques:
Watercolor and brown and gray ink over graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 6 1/8 x 18 5/8 inches (15.6 x 47.3 cm), Contemporary drawn border: 12 5/8 x 24 3/4 inches (32.1 x 62.9 cm)

Signed and dated in black ink, lower left: "No 13 F Towne. delt 1786"

Inscribed in black ink, lower left: "No 13 F Towne. delt 1786"; in black ink, verso, upper left: "No 13 | afternoon light from the right hand"; upper center: "The Lake of Windermere taken near Low Wood | August ye 9th 1786 by | Francis Towne"; center left: "Leicester Square | 1790 London"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
hills | lake | landscape | trees
Associated Places:
Cumbria | Windermere
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
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IIIF Manifest:

In the summer of 1786, the year of Gilpin's publication of his tour of the Lakes, Francis Towne undertook his own tour with two friends, one of whom was the first owner of this watercolor of Windermere. In a two week period they visited most of the lakes, and Towne filled two sketchbooks with drawings. Rather than consider these drawings as preliminary for other finished watercolors, Towne cho0se to work up the sketchbook pages themselves with watercolor and pen and ink outlines, extract the pages from the sketch book, and mount them as finished drawings (the date of 1790 on the back of the mount indicates the year Towne mounted the drawing). Although the watercolors have a carefully considered, even stylized appearance, the Towne scholar Timothy Wilcox maintains that, by retaining the format of the sketchbook page and by adding the insistent pen outlines, Towne was drawing attention to their origins as sketches done on the spot.

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 67 cat. no. 53

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Francis Towne (Leeds Art Gallery, 1997-10-02 - 1998-01-04) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Francis Towne (Tate Britain, 1997-06-24 - 1997-09-14) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Gentle, Rural and Sublime - English Landscape Paintings and Watercolors, 1750-1850 (Denver Art Museum, 1993-12-11 - 1994-02-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Fairest Isle - The Appreciation of British Scenery 1750-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1989-04-12 - 1989-06-25) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A loan exhibition of English drawings and watercolours from the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1964, cat. no. 54, N5247.M385 L62 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Andrews, The Search for the Picturesque, Landscape aesthetics and Tourism in Britain, 1760-1800 , Scolar Press, Aldershot, England, 1989, p. 157, fig. 50, BH301 L3 A53 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Katharine Baetjer, Glorious nature, British landscape painting, 1750-1850 , Zwemmer publisher, London, 1993, pp. 34, 136, no. 26, ND1354.4 B34 1993 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850 : collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon : Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, , 1,2, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 63, no. 72, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Duncan Robinson, Fairest isle : the appreciation of British scenery, 1750-1850, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1989, p. 7, no. 41, ND1354.4 F35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christopher White, English landscape, 1630-1850, drawings, prints & books from the Paul Mellon Collection , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, p. 30, no. 46, pl. VII, NC228 W45 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pp. 67-9, no. 53, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing, London, 1997, pp. 114-15, no. 49, NJ18 T695 W55 1997 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale University Art Gallery, English drawings and watercolors, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, April 15 - June 20, 1965 , New Haven, 1965, Cat. No. 54, NC228 Y34 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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