- Museum number
Lake Albano with Castel Gandolfo, formerly part of an album; the lake viewed from above a cliff, in the mid-distance to left a town on a cliff-top which curves around the lake. 1781 Watercolour, with pen and ink, on two conjoined sheets
- Production date
Height: 321 millimetres
Width: 702 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,03.1-17
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
Watermark on album sheet: Whatman 1801
This watercolour is one of the last painted by Towne before he left Rome to return to England in the company of John 'Warwick' Smith. On the way back he made a small group of drawings in the Alps which are rightly considered his masterpieces (the British Museum, unfortunately, has no examples).
The view of Lake Albano is immediately familiar from the watercolours of J.R. Cozens but it is unlikely that Towne then knew these. Cozens returned from his first visit to Italy early in 1779, and there is no evidence, either stylistic or documentary, that Towne had seen any of the resulting finished watercolours before he himself left for Italy in 1780. Towne's whole approach was quite unlike that of Cozens; his careful definition of form through outline is the opposite of Cozens's subtle modulation of surface texture by means of tiny strokes of related colours. Towne is interested in light rather than atmospheric effect. All his forms are distinct, though drawn with increasing delicacy as they recede towards the background.
This watercolour is dated 12 July 1781, the same day as another view of 'Lake Albano, morning sun rising over Rocca del Papa' (sale Sotheby's 14 July 2010, lot 62). His viewpoint was from Castel Gandolfo, visible in the British Museum's view which was taken later in the day.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1982 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat.
1990 April-Aug, BM, Treasures of P&D (no cat.)
1991 Jan-Mar, Cleveland MA, Ohio, BM English Watercolours, no. 17
1991 Mar-June, N Carolina MA, BM English Watercolours, no. 17
1993 Jan-Apr, RA, 'British Watercolours', no. 269
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.646