Sections

Doubtful Works

Richard Stephens

Problems of attribution are rare in Towne’s work. Most of what has appeared on the London art market since the 1920s has a common provenance in the Merivale family’s collection, and most of that was signed by Towne. Furthermore, as Towne did not command a wide following, his imitators were few and were chiefly confined to amateur pupils, whose limitations as artists stand in obvious contrast with Towne’s own work. Even so, there is potential for confusion among his more scarce work of the later 1780s, 1790s, and early 1800s, especially in his pure watercolours, of which few examples survive to provide a sound basis for making judgments. His direct involvement in much of his pupils’ work, in mounting, inscribing, and improving areas of the drawings themselves, blurs the boundaries of authorship and compromises somewhat the usefulness of even that body of work as a comparative tool. Better opportunities to study the few works presented here as doubtful would surely reduce their already modest number.

About the author

  • In 2006 Richard Stephens was awarded a PhD at Birkbeck College, London, for his thesis, A Catalogue RaisonnĂ© of The Works of Francis Towne, on which this website is based. In 2016 he curated the exhibition Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome at the British Museum, London. He edits The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735, published by the University of York.

Imprint

Imprint
Article title
Doubtful Works
Author
Richard Stephens
Date
13/01/2016
Article DOI
http://dx.doi.org/10.17658/towne/s6
Cite as
Richard Stephens, "Doubtful Works", A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.17658/towne/s6

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