Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Going out from the Porta Pia, looking towards the Sabine Mountains
Pencil, pen and grey ink, blue/green and grey washes
  • image width 203mm,
  • image length 267mm
paper watermarked with a fleur de lis design within a shield and the letters "GR"
  • sheet, verso
  • “Rome, / Going from the Port of Pia, / looking towards the Sabine / mountains drawn / on the Spot 1781 / Francis Towne delt.”
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Christie's records (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. Merivale’s granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP3). The Barton Place catalogue contains no record of its sale, so it may have been retained until Judith Merivale’s death. On 3 August 1945 Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.4198) for £30 with FT604, FT612, FT614. Betweeen 1945 and 1950 it was acquired by Sir William Worsley, Bt (1890–1973); according to Christie’s in 2013, Worsley purchased it in November 1945 for 65 guineas. The drawing was sold by the estate of Sir Marcus Worsley, his son, on 2 July 2013, lot 34, for £10,000.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 2 July 2013, GBP 10000
Christie's, London, London, 2 July 2013, lot 34
Sir William Worsley (1890 - 1973), November 1945, 65 guineas
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 3 August 1945, GBP 30, no.4198
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945), Oxford, May 1915, BP3
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928), Oxford, May 1915, BP3
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Watercolours by Francis Towne, City Art Gallery, 1950, no. 17
English Watercolours from Four Yorkshire Houses 1660-1860, Scarborough Art Gallery, 1950, no. 12
Three Centuries of British Water-colours, Arts Council, 1951, no. 191
Early English Water Colours, Leeds City Art Gallery, 8 October 1958 to 23 November 1958, no. 100
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 141


Paul Oppé’s note reads: “(3) same size [as BP2] from book. 1781 spot. Blue & browns, looser outline & shadows drank in with brush. Fleur de lys in shield GR. ‘Going from the Port of Pia.’”1 A drawing is listed in the Barton Place catalogue, after BP89, “On the road from Porta Pia Framed JAM”, which is probably this drawing or else another, uncatalogued here. This drawing is of a similar style, medium, and paper to the drawings made on the excursion to the Licenza valley (FT246, FT247, FT248, FT249, FT250), and it may well be that it was made on the same journey. Towne also travelled through the Porta Pia in north-east Rome when he sketched the Fossa della Ceccina in October 1780 (FT175).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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