To mark the bicentenary of Towne’s death, The Winterbourne Press is collaborating with the leading Towne scholar Timothy Wilcox to publish a facsimile reconstruction of the sketchbook Towne created during a three-week tour of the Lake District in August 1786. Its forty pages are now widely scattered; the majority in major public collections in Britain and the United States, with several more in private ownership. Unlike almost every other sketchbook of the period, the slim volume contained not rough jottings, but carefully composed landscape drawings. Some were removed, coloured and mounted by the artist, others remained partly finished within the bound covers, but all are in dazzling condition. The result is a unique document of British watercolour painting, and a testament both to the artistic discovery of the Lake District and to the great age of Picturesque travel.
The single-volume edition will include all the known leaves reproduced in colour, at actual size (with two ‘lost’ pages in black and white). All the versos are also reproduced, when not stuck down onto one of the artist’s mounts. The sketchbook itself is accompanied by an Introduction, setting the tour in the context of Towne’s life and art, along with detailed notes on the individual subjects, which include classic locations such as Windermere, Ambleside and Coniston, along with far less familiar Buttermere and Bassenthwaite.