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drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Nn,2.25

  • Description

    Entrance to the Villa Ludovisi, formerly part of an album; walled road to left flanked by tall trees on r, figure in right foreground leaning against entrance. 1780 Pen and black ink, grey wash and watercolour

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1780
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 464 millimetres
    • Width: 321 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Stainton 1985
        Signed and dated: "F. Towne delt No 19 Dec 9 / 178[o]" and inscribed on the backing sheet "No 19 Going into the Villa Ludovisi Dec 9 1780 Rome Francis Towne delt"
  • Curator's comments

    From album NN.02.1-32
    See Nn,1.1 for information about the Towne albums as a whole.

    Stainton 1985
    Towne's developing interest in unconventional spatial juxtapositions is well illustrated in this drawing: few other eighteenth-century artists would have conceived such an idiosyncratic composition, dominated as it is by an enormous expanse of sky against which a group of cypress trees is silhouetted. Towne must have calculated the design with care - the tallest cypress is placed at the exact centre of the paper, and it is apparent that his concern was above all with the pattern he was making.
    This watercolour seems to have been among those included by Towne in the exhibition he organised of his work in 1805. He never became a member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours, who, coincidentally, were to hold their first exhibition later in the same year; no greater contrast can be imagined than that between Towne's refined patterns and the richly coloured, ornately framed works exhibited by members of the new Society. Lack of appreciation from his contemporaries - he was also an unsuccessful candidate for election as an Associate of the Royal Academy on several occasions - seems to have embittered Towne, who in his lifetime enjoyed only a local reputation as a drawing master in and around Exeter.

    The following label was written by Richard Stephens for the Towne exhibition in 2016:
    During his studies in Italy, Towne's compositional ideas sometimes evolved over several drawings. An idea used on one occasion was developed further in another work made shortly afterwards. With its dominant central tree set against a foreground of garden walls, this striking watercolour may be compared with the Arco Oscuro watercolour to your left (Nn,2.23) that Towne had made ten days earlier, on 29 November, which itself features a large pine tree at its centre.

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  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 1(18) bibliographic details
    • Bury 1962 1(18) bibliographic details
    • Stainton 1985 34 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Imp PIIIb)

  • Exhibition history

    1985, BM, 'British Landscape Watercolours', no.34 1993 Jan-Apr, London, Royal Academy, 'British Watercolours', no. 268 2001 Sep-Dec, Mantua, Palazzo Te, 'Un paese incantato', no.15
    2016, Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)

  • Condition

    Laid down in original wash lined mount.

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1816

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    Nn,2.25

  • Additional IDs

    • 1972,U.731
Entrance to the Villa Ludovisi, formerly part of an album; walled road to l flanked by tall trees on r, figure in r foreground leaning against entrance. 1780 Pen and black ink, grey wash and watercolour

Recto

Entrance to the Villa Ludovisi, formerly part of an album; walled road to l flanked by tall trees on r, figure in r foreground leaning against entrance. 1780 Pen and black ink, grey wash and watercolour

Image description

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