- Museum number
The Temple of Saturn (formerly known as the temple of Concord), formerly part of an album; road from right leading to ruined columns of temple on l, which overlooks courtyard in front. c.1780-1
Pen and black ink and watercolour, strengthened with gum
- Production date
Height: 322 millimetres
Width: 473 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,01.1-25
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
Ref: Thomas Ashby, Forty drawings of Roman scenes by British artists (1715-1850) from Originals in the British Museum, 1911, no. XVII
T. Wilcox, Francis Towne, London 1997
When the sculptor John Flaxman returned to London from his years in Rome, he reported to Farington that the city had not been all he had expected: "On entering the streets he found them narrow and dark; and when he came upon the ruins of ancient buildings He found them on a smaller scale, and much less striking, than he had been accustomed to suppose them after having seen the prints of Piranesi" ('Diary', II, p. 444, entry for 16 December 1795). Piranesi's etching of the Temple of Concord might have been calculated to evoke just such a response: the building all but bursts through the margins of the image, its imputed energy emphasised by the acute perspective and steep recession of the frieze. The flowerpots and washing lines observed by Towne are there too, but their homely, picturesque atmosphere is firmly kept in place by the dominant presence of the temple. Towne, by comparison, is rather more familiar. The rhythmic power of the colonnade is neutralised in part by the strong shadow, but chiefly by the interplay of the geometry into which it is inserted. The strong echoing shapes of the rectangular blocks, lower left and upper right, together with the paired sloping roofs, the nearer an exact miniature of the further, give the image an inner cohesion in which the temple is almost incidental. A very similar view by 'Warwick' Smith, possibly drawn in Towne's company, possesses many of the same elements (BM 1936,0704.20; the foreground carts, the fall of the shadows and the turbulent sky are all common to both images) but has none of Towne's rigour. Like the temple, whose history he recorded in unusual detail in his inscription, Towne's watercolour contrived to balance the noble and popular, but it was the artist's own controlling vision which ultimately predominated over both one and the other.
The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
This famous view at the western end of the Forum was drawn by many British artist visitors to Rome, including John 'Warwick' Smith, whose version is in the British Museum. The inscription Towne added to the mount notes that 'it was built as a Monument of the Reconciliation, between the People & the Nobility of Rome' a phrase he took from Keysler's Travels (1756). Whilst Towne quite often scratched out the dates he wrote on his mounts, here he has scratched out the date '1781' from the bottom left corner of the watercolour itself.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1981 May-Aug, Nottingham, Castle Mus, Great British watercolours
1982 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat.
1997 June-Sep, London, Tate Gallery, Francis Towne
1997/8 Oct-Jan, Leeds CAG, Francis Towne
2016 Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)
- Laid down in original artists hand drawn mount
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- T. Wilcox, Francis Towne, London 1997
Donated, in accordance with the artist's wishes, by his executor, James White, and "with the concurrence of J. H. Merivale" 1816
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1972,U.723