Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Bay of Naples
  • Naples and Capri
Pencil, watercolour, mounted by the artist
  • image width 400mm,
  • image length 610mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne delt / 1786”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Bay of Naples. A view standing on the hill of Pausilipo near the Castle of St. Elmo looking towards the Isle of Capraea. / Drawn on the Spot / by / Francis Towne / 1786”
  • according to the Witt Library, this inscription is “according to the previous owner” (i.e. prior to Oppé)
Object Type

The Island of Capri
Bay of Naples
A View of the Bay of Naples with the Island of Capri
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image); Paul Oppé records


Owned by publisher John Lane (1854–1925) before being acquired by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.1868) from Meatyard in 1927. Oppé’s descendants sold it in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the current owner, the Tate Gallery (T08195).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T08195
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 1927, no.1868
Meatyard, 1927
John Lane (1854 - 1925)
Exhibition History
Catalogue of a collection of pictures, drawings, furniture and works of art of the Empire and Regency period : select examples of Romano-British art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1929, no. 25
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 4
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 38
Exhibition of Works from The Paul Oppe Collection, Royal Academy, 1958, no. 97
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 62
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 122 (as dated 1798)
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 146 (as dated 1798)
Luke Herrmann, British Landscape Painting of the 18th Century, Faber: London, 1973, p. 122


This is a version of Towne’s 1781 sketch of the Bay of Naples (FT240). Two other versions are known (FT414, FT558). Despite the discrepancy in date, this is surely the 1798 watercolour that John Lane described on 16 October 1915 as measuring 394 x 610 mm, about which Oppé expressed regret in his Walpole Society article that he had been unable to look at it.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Letter from John Lane, 16 October 1915, Paul Oppé archive; Oppé 1920, p.122 n.2.

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