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drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Nn,1.1

  • Description

    Ruins on the Palatine, looking towards the Aventine, formerly part of an album; ruined arches covered in thick vegetation on l, with view of hill and houses beyond. 1781 Watercolour with pen and black ink

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1781
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 374 millimetres
    • Width: 533 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Inscribed and dated: "F. Towne del. No 27" Verso: inscribed with more details of location and time of execution
  • Curator's comments

    From album NN,01.1-25.

    It was Francis Towne's wish that his watercolour views of Rome, which had formed the nucleus of his restrospective solo exhibition in 1805, permanantly reside in the British Museum alongside those of his friend and fellow landscape artist William Pars. Following his death in 1816 a collection of drawings which had been mounted by Towne was accessioned by the British Museum Prints and Drawings department, followed by another series in 1818. According to Paul Oppé (who wrote an early important article on the artist), these mounted drawings were put into albums upon receipt (NN.01.1-25; NN.02; NN.03); these albums were later disbanded.
    Judging by the watermarks on some of the mounts, Towne appears to have been organising his Italian watercolours over a long duration and up until almost the end of his life: Nn,1.25, for example, has a watermark of 1798 and Nn,2.1 one of 1815. Richard Stephens has suggested that Towne's attention to his life's work and anticipation of his public legacy is comparable to the activities of his artist friends Downman and Jones during their retirements. Many of these watercolours have detailed inscriptions on the back of their mounts, which were expanded versions of brief pencil notes scribbled, on the spot, on the back of the original paper on which the drawing was made. In mounting the drawings these inscriptions would have been otherwise lost. The BM holds a manuscript catalogue of the first Towne bequest which was made by John Thomas Smith c. 1816: BM Prints and Drawings Library, Cc.7.11.

    Literature:
    Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', Walpole Society, vol. 8, 1919-20, pp. 95-126.
        Timothy Wilcox, 'Francis Towne', exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997; Richard Stephens: 'A Catalogue of the works of Francis Towne', unpublished Ph.D.thesis, Birkbeck College, London, 2005; 'New Material for Francis Towne's Biography', The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 138, No. 1121 (Aug., 1996), pp. 500-505; 'Francis Towne's Views of Rome', British Art Journal, X, no. 3, 2010, pp.46-55.
        Richard Stephens, A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), online at http://francistowne.ac.uk/ (published by Paul Mellon Centre for British Art)


    The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition at the BM in 2016:
    This is a view looking from the Palatine Hill over the Circus Maximus to the churches of the Aventine Hill. In the mid 1780s, Towne made copies of this watercolour for both Mrs Fortescue of Buckland House, Devon, and the Exeter merchant Thomas Snow. Whilst full of information, Towne's aim is not to provide an antiquarian description of ancient and modern Rome. Rather, it is a picture of tranquillity which employs a gentle palette of greens and browns, lit by the fading afternoon sun.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 2(1) bibliographic details
    • Bury 1962 2(1) bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Atlas PIIIb)

  • Exhibition history

    2016 Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1816

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    Nn,1.1

  • Additional IDs

    • 1972,U.623
Ruins on the Palatine, looking towards the Aventine, formerly part of an album; ruined arches covered in thick vegetation on l, with view of hill and houses beyond. 1781 Watercolour with pen and black ink

Ruins on the Palatine, looking towards the Aventine, formerly part of an album; ruined arches covered in thick vegetation on l, with view of hill and houses beyond. 1781 Watercolour with pen and black ink

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