Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • In the Villa Barberini
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour with gum, scratching out
  • image width 270mm,
  • image length 369mm
laid paper with an indistinct watermark
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt. 1781 / No52[inscribed over another “No52”]”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rome / No52 in the Villa Barberini / Drawn on the Spot / by / Francis Towne / [“May 26th 1781” scratched out] 1781 [the year in dark brown ink] / Evening light coming through the / Trees on the left hand”
Object Type

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 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum, London (Nn.1.22).

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. 146 or 147 as 'In the Villa Barberini'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1934, no. 420
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 28
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, p. 126
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 156
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 113


Villa Barberini was one of the major palaces of Rome, adjacent to Villa Ludovisi (FT189) near Porta Pia and Porta Salara. This is one of two drawings of the villa’s gardens, the other being FT223. Neither looks like a work primarily of the early 1780s, and they were surely worked up substantially decades later.


by Richard Stephens

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.