- Museum number
A gallery of the Colosseum, formerly part of an album; vaulted gallery supported by huge piers, open to left with view of buildings in distance. 1780
Pen and black ink and watercolour
- Production date
Height: 317 millimetres
Width: 470 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,02.1-32
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
This interior view, dated 22 December 1780, uses a compositional approach seen a few days earlier in the watercolour to its left, which is dated 16 December, although here Towne has deployed it in reverse. These watercolours appealed to Paul Oppé (1878-1957), whose 1920 article revived Towne's reputation. Oppé praised Towne's 'remarkably accurate and bold drawings of the complicated structure, reducing it to the simplest terms.'
The economy and directness with which Towne often drew greatly appealed to the art public of the early 20th century, who saw Towne through a prism of the modernism of their own day. Oppé commented that Towne's qualities were 'much more in accord with the taste of today than with that of his own time or, still more, of the generations after his death' and believed that Towne was out of step with mainstream 18th century tastes. In this way, Towne came to be viewed as an artist ahead of his time, and this seemed to explain his lack of success during his life. The sketches that adhered most naturally to modernist ideas about form and composition became the most prized examples of his work among collectors.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1981 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat.
1988 Oct-Dec, Whitworth AG, 'Travels in Italy', no. 40
2016, Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)
- Laid down in orginial wash-lined mount.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1972,U.732