Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Italianate Landscape
No date
Pencil, pen and brown wash, watercolour
  • image height 273mm,
  • image length 212mm
  • sheet, verso, lower left
  • “F.Towne / delt”
  • in dark brown ink
  • sheet, verso, upper left
  • “No54”
  • (the “5” corrected from a “4”) in dark brown ink
  • sheet, verso, upper left
  • “Decr 20 / 1810 / Francis Towne / to / the Revd Mw. H. Carr”
  • in pencil
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources


Given by the artist to William Holwell Carr in 1810. Thereafter untraced until sold at Bonham’s Knightsbridge, 29 October 2014, lot 271, for £2,875 including fees to Guy Peppiatt, who sold it the following year.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection, 2015
Guy Peppiatt, London, 29 October 2014, GBP 2875
Bonham's, London, 29 October 2014, lot 271
William Holwell Carr, 20 December 1810


This is an imaginary scene with memories of Italy, rather than a copy of number 44 or 54 in the Italy series. It documents Towne’s friendship with William Holwell Carr, the Exeter connoisseur who was close friends with Towne in old age, writing in 1801 that he saw “Towne at tea & supper three or four times a week”1 and sitting with the artist during his final illness. Apart from the works of 1780–81 that Towne bequeathed to the British Museum, it is the only example known where Towne made a gift of a surviving work.

If Towne gave it around the time that he had made it, then it would be by far the latest finished watercolour that survives from Towne’s hand. All the other watercolours that post-date Towne’s 1805 exhibition and the lull in production that followed it are small sketchbook studies, rather than fully worked-up independent sheets. This shows with what subtlety Towne was able to paint with a brush, without recourse to pen and ink. The upper parts of the main trees, and especially the central tree and the foliage of the trees behind and to its right, are painted with a sensitivity to the medium not seen elsewhere in Towne’s watercolour-only work. Perhaps this success was itself a reason to make a gift of the drawing.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Royal Academy, HU5/1.

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