Towne's composition focuses on a famous ruin and 18th century tourist attraction. Berry Pomeroy Castle sits over a gorge of the river Dart, near Totnes in Devonshire, its height suggested by tiny figures that descend a steep lane at right. Greatest emphasis is given to crumbling walls overgrown with bushes and ivy. Unusually, the artist worked on this drawing in two, widely separated, stages. Around 1775 he sketched the composition in graphite while at the site the, in the mid-1780s, added layers of rich color, mixing his washes with gum to achieve effects comparable to oil.
Signature: signed lower right: "F. Towne delt."
Inscription: inscribed on verso of the mount in the artist's hand: "No 3, Berry Castle in the county of Devon / the outline taken on the spot / Francis Towne"/ (almost completely erased) "Finished...1805" (?); old label on the back of the frame: "Thoms. Agnew & Sons, Ltd.,/ No. 10173/ Fine art Publishers to His Majesty / London, / 43, Old Bond Street,/ Piccadilly, W."
Miss Buckingham(according to A. P. Oppé, 1919); Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London)(no. 10173, on old label); Dr. Malins(acquired from the preceding); then by descent; Private collection, Canada; Bonhams, London, New Bond Street, 11 July 2012, lot 3; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," August 27, 2013–November 18, 2013.
Adolph Paul Oppé "Francis Towne Landscape Painter." Eighth Volume of the Walpole Society. vol. 8, 1919–20, p. 108.
Timothy Wilcox Francis Towne. Ex. cat., Tate Gallery, London, June 24-Sept. 14, 1997; Leeds City Art Gallery, Oct. 2, 1997-Jan. 4, 1998. 1997, p. 39.
Bonhams, London 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours. Sale cat. London, July 11, 2012, lot 3.
Artist: Francis Towne (British, Isleworth, Middlesex 1739–1816 Exeter)Date: September 2, 1781Medium: Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, over traces of graphite, on white laid paperAccession: 68.93On view in:Not on view