Collection online

drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Ariccia, formerly part of an album; wide road in foreground surrounded by thick woods with dome of church and other roofs rising behind. 1781 Watercolour with pen and black ink outlines

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1781
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 321 millimetres
    • Width: 468 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Stainton 1985
        Signed and dated: "Larice July 11 1781 Francis Towne delt." and inscribed on the backing sheet "Italy Laricea July 11 1781 Morning Sun breaking over the Church &f Buildings. Francis Towne delt. A copy of this painted on canvas for James Curtis, Esqre 1784"
  • Curator's comments

    From album NN,03.1-17
    See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.

    Exhibited at the BM, 1982 (no catalogue, extended labels). An oil painting of the same subject measuring 13 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches, signed and dated 1784, from the collection of James Curtis was with Spink, Summer 1972 (see Octagon, IX, 2).
    Stainton 1985
    Ariccia, a small town in the Alban Hills to the south of Rome, was a resort for Romans and visitors seeking to escape the summer heat of the city. As Towne's annotation indicates, early morning sunlight is shown striking the foreground and cupola of Bernini's S. Maria dell'Assunzione, while the dark olive-green trees still retain their coolness.
    By comparison with drawings made at the outset of his visit to Rome in the autumn of the previous year, the bold pattern and simplified and contrasted masses of colour in this view of Ariccia show the development of Towne's highly personal manner. Striking though such drawings are, however, their exaggerated stylisation (e.g. in the all-purpose convention for foliage) and emphasis on compositional pattern-making tend to obscure the individual qualities of the place represented.

    Shown at Towne's one-man exhibition in London, 1805. See Tim Wilcox, 'The Triumph of Watercolour', exh. cat., Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2005, no. 3 and p. 45.

    The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
    Most of Towne's customers were based in Devon but in 1784 the London brewer James Curtis, a close associate of the family of William Pars, ordered a copy of this view which depicts the church of S Maria dell'Assunzione at Ariccia near Lake Albano.
    Although this watercolour was not mounted until at least 1804, it lacks any significant reworking and its spare elegance made it one of Towne's most celebrated in the 20th century.


  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 3(14) bibliographic details
    • Bury 1962 3(14) bibliographic details
    • Stainton 1985 36 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Imp PIIIb)

  • Exhibition history

    1936 BM 'Canaletto to Constable', no no. 1955 Jan-Feb, Norwich Castle Mus, English Watercolours, no.13 1958 Apr, BM, Eight centuries of landscape ... water-colours, case 57 1972-3 Oct-Jan, Munich, Haus der Kunst, 'Das Aquarell 1400-1950', no.143 1974 Jun-Aug, Kenwood, 'British artists in Rome 1700-1800', no.142 1982 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat. 1982 Sep-Nov, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, 'Artists in Rome', no. 207 1983 Mar-May, Manchester, Whitworth AG, 'Most Beautiful Art of England', no. 3 1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours, no.36 1988 Oct-Dec, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 'Travels in Italy', no. 74 1991 Jan-Mar, Ohio, Cleveland Mus of Art, English Watercolours, no. 16 1991 Mar-June, N Carolina Mus of Art, English Watercolours, no. 16
    2005 Feb-April, London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Triumph of Watercolour, no. 3
    2005 May-Aug, Manchester, Whitworth AG, Triumph of Watercolour
    2016 Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • 1973,U.1348
COMPASS Title: Francis Towne, Ariccia, a watercolour with pen outlines


COMPASS Title: Francis Towne, Ariccia, a watercolour with pen outlines

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Object reference number: PDB4776

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