Oil Paintings, 1784–1801

Richard Stephens

Much of Towne’s commissioned work during the pre-Italian period was in oil, but in later years his clients more commonly ordered watercolours. Only three commissioned oil paintings survive (FT410, FT421, FT449), all from the early to mid-1780s. A fourth commission is lost (FT411).

Apart from the commissioned pictures, several of the oil paintings listed here were painted for exhibition at the Royal Academy between the later 1780s and the 1800s (FT572, FT616, FT617, FT646). They are valuable survivals, as they confirm Towne’s insistence, in his 1803 autobiographical letter, that he had never exhibited a drawing and because they show the kinds of work on which Towne was basing his claim for membership of the Royal Academy during the latter part of his career. Further exhibits are now lost (FT557, FT557a, FT574, FT575, FT576, FT598, FT627a).

About the author

  • Richard Stephens is an independent art historian. He was awarded a PhD at Birkbeck College, London, for his thesis, A Catalogue Raisonné of The Works of Francis Towne, on which his Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739–1816) 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.


Article title
Oil Paintings, 1784–1801
Richard Stephens
Article DOI
Cite as
Richard Stephens, "Oil Paintings, 1784–1801", A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016),

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