- Museum number
The Roman Forum, formerly part of an album; a fountain at centre from which cattle are drinking, to right, three columns, and in the foreground broken columns. 1781
Watercolour, with pen and grey ink, on two conjoined sheets
- Production date
Height: 325 millimetres
Width: 590 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- From album NN,03.1-17
See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.
Towne and 'Warwick' Smith may have been joined by William Pars while drawing in the Campo Vaccino on this occasion, since there is a very similar view by Pars (he made several versions of the composition). Although apparently worked up from sketches made on the same day, the watercolours by Towne and 'Warwick' Smith are quite different in mood.
The following introduction was written by Richard Stephens for the 'The Forum and other ancient sites: Summer 1781' section of the Towne exhibition in 2016:
By the time that Towne returned to Rome from Naples in early April 1781, he had made only a very selective account of the ancient ruins within Rome's city walls, and had sketched nothing of the modern city. Between then and his departure for England at the end of July in the company of John 'Warwick' Smith, Towne spent significant time outside the city, on further country excursions.
During these months there is greater variety in subject matter than before, and Towne sketched many of Rome's best-known views. Even so, he drew some of the major monuments in the days immediately before he returned to England, as if in a rush. Perhaps he had originally envisaged a longer stay which he had now cut short.
Towne completed a series of fifty-four large coloured views of Rome in what eventually amounted to about six months in the city. Although two of the views remained uncoloured and did not form part of Towne's bequest to the British Museum, most of the remainder seem to have been completed during his time in Italy.
The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
Towne spent the early summer of 1781 in and out of Rome on several country excursions. He omitted to draw some of the key monuments until his very last days in the city. This view of the Forum, though undated, was probably one such work as it is numbered 51. The watercolour is mounted on card that is watermarked with the year 1794, and there are indications that Towne worked on it around this time, chiefly because the right edge of the watercolour is itself painted onto the mount.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1982 BM P&D, 'Francis Towne and John 'Warwick Smith', no cat.
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.650