Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Ponte Molle
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 323mm,
  • image length 476mm
laid paper watermarked with a design featuring a fleur de lis within a coronet the letters "CR" [?or "GR"] below
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked with a coronet design with indistinct lettering that includes amplisands, and featuring the date "179..."
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “No47 Rome / Ponte Molle. 1781 / F.Towne. delt.”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rome / No47 Ponte Molle / [“June 26th 1781.”, “June 28th 1781.”, or “June 30th 1781.” scratched out] / drawn on the Spot by / Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink
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.1.20).

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. 151 as 'Ponte Molle taken on the Banks of the Tyber'
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. 201
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 126


Ponte Molle crosses the Tiber on the northern entry into Rome. Towne made several studies in the area soon after he arrived in Rome (FT172, FT173, FT174) but this appears to have been made not long before his departure.

The late mounting and the heavy working of the foliage and the river suggest that this was worked on much later than 1781.

by Richard Stephens

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