Collection online

drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Nn,2.26

  • Description

    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

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1780
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 317 millimetres
    • Width: 470 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Inscribed and dated on recto: "F. Towne delt No 21 Rome 1780"
        Verso: "No 21 Inside the Colosea Decr 22nd 1780 Rome Francis Towne delt. from 11 till 1 o clock."
  • 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.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 1(19) bibliographic details
    • Bury 1962 1(19) bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Imp PIIIb)

  • 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)

  • Condition

    Laid down in orginial wash-lined mount.

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1816

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    Nn,2.26

  • Additional IDs

    • 1972,U.732
A Gallery of the Colosseum, formerly part of an album; vaulted gallery supported by huge piers, open to l with view of buildings in distance. 1780 Pen and black ink and watercolour

Recto

A Gallery of the Colosseum, formerly part of an album; vaulted gallery supported by huge piers, open to l with view of buildings in distance. 1780 Pen and black ink and watercolour

Image description

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