- Museum number
The Claudian Aqueduct, near the Arch of Constantine, looking towards the Palatine, formerly part of an album; ruins partially covered in trees and bushes. c.1781
Pen and black ink with grey wash and watercolour
- Production date
- 1781 (circa)
Height: 386 millimetres
Width: 533 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,01.1-25
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
For the inscription, see: Richard Stephens, 'Francis Towne's Views of Rome', British Art Journal, X, no. 3, 2010, pp. 50-51 (repro. p. 6), where he notes that the time that he drew this view was not 10 but 16 o'clock, not the local time in Rome but the time back in England.
From the second of the artist's Roman albums in the British Museum, in which most of the drawings are inscribed with dates in the early months of 1781. With its dramatically close-up viewpoint, Towne's rendering of a massive fragment of one of ancient Rome's greatest aqueducts (completed in 50 AD to carry water to the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill) suggests a knowledge of Piranesi's prints of Roman ruins, but in place of Piranesi's sombre, atmospheric grandeur Towne stresses the sculptural quality of the arches and the effect of sunlight on the masonry, which he captures in sharp focus. A later replica, dated 1785, is in the Yale Center for British Art.
The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
Towne noted on the back of this watercolour's mount that he delivered a copy of this view to Mrs Fortescue of Buckland House, Devon, in 1786. Around the same time he made another copy for the Exeter merchant Thomas Snow, which is the version that survives. On his mount, Towne also copied a remark from Joseph Addison's very popular guidebook, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy (1705) that the aqueduct 'run 38 miles and sunk after the Proportion of five foot & a half every mile by the advantage of a high source & the low Situation of Rome.'
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977 Oct-Nov, Louisville, Speed Mus, British watercolours, no.20
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours, no.35
2016, Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1972,U.624