- Museum number
On the descent from Capodimonte, Naples, formerly part of an album; rocky gorge with ruins on either side, crucifix in left foreground, aqueduct in distance. 1781
Pen and black ink and grey and brown wash with watercolour
- Production date
Height: 322 millimetres
Width: 466 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,03.1-17
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
Towne visited Naples early in 1781, perhaps at the suggestion of Thomas Jones who had been in the city since May 1780. On 8 March 1781 Jones noted: 'Towne the Landscape painter arrived from Rome, bringing me Letters from my friends at that place - I was glad to see him...and as his stay in Naples was not proposed to be long, I gladly offered my Services to be his Cicerone, and revisit with him all the curiosities of Art and Nature in, and about this delightful city - a circumstance rather favourable to Mr Towne, in his Profession , as I was able to conduct him to many picturesque Scenes of my Own discovery, entirely out of the common road of occasional Visiters, either Cavaliers of Artists, from Rome.'
Capo di Monte, with its fine views over the city and bay of Naples, was probably among the first palces which Towne visited; as his note indicates this watercolour shows a cluster of buildings which he drew on his descent from Capo di Monte.
The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
Capodimonte was a hill in the north of Naples that offered good views of the city and bay, and was also the district of the Neapolitan royal palace and art gallery. On the mount, Towne has scratched out his date of 'March 20th 1781' but, according to Thomas Jones's memoir, on that date the two men were accosted by soldiers at an inn while they were sketching ancient temples at Baia near Pozzuoli. In the mid 1780s Towne made a copy of this view.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1982 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat.
1990 May-Jul, Naples, Castel Sant'Elmo, 'Vesuvius', (no cat.)
1990 Oct-Nov, London, Accademia Italiana, 'Vesuvius', no cat. no. (p.132-3)
2003 May-Aug, Cardiff, Nat Mus Gall of Wales, 'Thomas Jones (1742-1803) a bicentenary exhibition'
2003 Aug-Oct, Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, 'Thomas Jones (1742-1803), a bicentenary exhibition'
2016 Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The first gift of watercolours by Francis Towne is recorded in the 'Book of Donations 1756-1823' on 16 November 1816 (see comments under Nn,1.1 and Nn,2.1). A second group of '17 watercolours by the late Francis Towne of different views in Italy', given by W.White of Exeter, was recorded on 14 November 1818. This is glossed by J T Smith's report to the Trustees dated 13 November 1818, where he states that a gift of 17 drawings by Towne 'all views in or around Rome' had been received from J H Merivale. Since the third Towne album, Nn,3, contains 17 watercolours, it most likely contains the supplementary works that arrived in 1818.
Ottley's description of the three volumes in his catalogue of 1832/3 reads: 'Drawings .... by Francis Towne 1780-1, presented to the British Museum, according to his desire, by his executors, James White and J H Merivale, Esq.'
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1972,U.640