Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Coming down from Capodimonte
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour, gum
  • image width 323mm,
  • image length 468mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “No7 / F.Towne. delt. 1781”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Naples / No7 Coming down from Capa de Monta / drawn on the spot Francis Towne / March No7. 1781 [the date over scratched-out “March 20th 1781”]”
Object Type

Coming down from Capodimonte
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), who gave it in 1818 to the present owner, the British Museum (Nn.3.1).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 188 as 'Coming down from Capo di Monte, at Naples'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
In the Shadow of Vesuvius, Accademia Italiana, London, 1990
Thomas Jones (1742-1803): An Artist Rediscovered, National Museum & Gallery, 2003, no. 93
Light, time, legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome, British Museum, 2016
Laurence Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists and Artists of Foreign Origin Working in Great Britain Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, Trustees of the British Museum: London, 1907, p. 202
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 126-127


Capodimonte was a hill on the outskirts of Naples that offered good views of the city and bay. It was also the district where the Neapolitan royal gallery that housed the royal collection was located. William Pars lodged in a house at Capodimonte during both of his visits to Naples.

As with FT231, Towne worked on this drawing long after 1781, chiefly to reinforce its shaded areas. He also made another version of the drawing, probably in the mid-1780s (FT418).

According to Thomas Jones’s notebook and memoir, he and Towne visited Baia on 20 March 1781 but were accosted by soldiers at an inn. The two artists retreated to Pozzuoli. Paul Oppé noted that a drawing of Capri “and its companion ‘Pozzuoli’” were sold at Sotheby’s in 1937. Although it seems that two commissioned works by Towne dating 1784 were sold then, other evidence puts Oppé’s identification of the subjects in doubt (see the Comment at FT416).

by Richard Stephens

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