Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View on the Banks of the Tiber at Rome
ca. 1780
Oil on canvas
  • canvas width 498mm,
  • canvas width 743mm
  • frame, verso, label
  • “View on Tiber Mr. Towne” and “View on Tiber / (landscape) by Towne”,
  • both inscribed by unidentified contemporary hands
Object Type
Oil painting

On the Banks of the Tiber near Ponte Molle
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it passed to Towne’s residuary legatee John Herman Merivale (1779–1844) and his successors. It has descended through the Merivale family to the current owner.

Associated People & Organisations

John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
[?] The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, Royal Academy of Arts, 1792, no. 197 as 'A View on the Banks of the Tiber at Rome'
[?] Works of British artists placed in the Gallery of the British Institution, Pall-Mall for exhibition and Sale, British Institution, 1810, no. 155 as 'A view on the banks of the Tiber, near Ponte Molle, Rome, measuring 711 x 940mm'


This is a version of a drawing (FT173). Towne has introduced into the picture a great deal more from his imagination than from the 1780 sketch, the information from which occupies barely one quarter of the canvas. He may well have had in mind as a model a composition by Claude Lorraine reproduced in Richard Earlom’s Liber Veritatis (no.58).

Towne’s 1792 Royal Academy picture was placed in the main exhibition room, which suggests that it was an oil painting, as were his exhibits of 1800. This picture is very likely to have been the exhibit of 1792, given its title and the existence of the two early exhibition labels. The occasion of its second display was probably the 1810 British Institution exhibition, the last year before the organisation banned artists from offering work already displayed elsewhere in London. Its possession by Towne as late as 1810 would make sense of its provenance, as other exhibits from late in Towne’s life, such as two of 1808 (FT616, FT617) and one of 1812 (FT651), were also left to the Merivale family.

The young John Herman Merivale visited the 1792 Royal Academy exhibition and wrote back to his father in Exeter on 4 May: “There were several very fine landscapes, among them one of Mr.Towne’s.”1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Transcript at Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

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