386
386
Francis Towne
LAKE OF CLONTHALEE NEAR GLARUS, SWITZERLAND
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 68,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
386
Francis Towne
LAKE OF CLONTHALEE NEAR GLARUS, SWITZERLAND
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 68,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London

Francis Towne
ISLEWORTH, MIDDLESEX 1739 - 1816 LONDON
LAKE OF CLONTHALEE NEAR GLARUS, SWITZERLAND
Grey wash with pen and ink on laid paper, watermarked with the fleur-de-lis;
inscribed, dated and signed verso: Lake of Clonthalee near Glaris / No 26th. Sept 2nd 1781 light from the left hand in the morning / Francis Towne
286 by 340 mm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744-1825);
John Herman Merivale (1779-1844),
by family descent to Judith Ann Merivale (1860-1945), of Oxford, by 1915;
with the Squire Gallery, London;
F.O. Roberts,
by family descent until,
sale, London, Christie’s, 13 July 1993, lot 24; bt. Leger Galleries,
with the Leger Galleries, London

Exhibited

London, Leger Galleries, British Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, 1994, no. 5;
London, Tate Britain, and Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery, Francis Towne, 1997-1998, no. 40

Literature

R. Stephens, Francis Towne - Online Catalogue, no. FT287

Catalogue Note

The present sheet, depicting the calm and idyllic Lake Clonthalee hemmed in by mountains, is a superb example of Towne’s ability to juxtapose light and shadow through the use of a monochromatic palette. The work was executed whilst Towne was travelling back from Italy through the Eastern Alps with John Warwick Smith, and shows perhaps one of the most compositionally perfect scenes from this group of drawings, as the towering mountains fill the edges of the composition, bringing the eye towards the peaceful lake below.

The extraordinary topography of the Alps was, at the time, starting to attract both scientists and artists. Whilst the pair were not the first British painters to visit the mountain range – William Pars (1742-1782) did so before them – they were certainly among the first to travel through documenting the impressive surroundings. 

The dramatic mountain range is bathed in early morning light to the right of the composition, in contrast to the left, where the mountain slopes remain shrouded in darkness. The sheer size of the mountains seems to stand in stark opposition to the stillness of the lake, and the noticeable lack of human activity emphasizes the bucolic nature of the scene.

Towne’s experiments with light and shadow were developed during his time in the Alps. Later, in 1786, Towne experimented further with light and shadow on his trip to the Lake District, see for example Ambleside, 1786 (Victoria & Albert Museum, P.19-1921), in which he develops his techniques to record an atmospheric weather transition, which he captions as: Taken at the going off of a storm.

Old Master & British Works on Paper

|
London