Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Fortuna Virilis
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 388mm,
  • image length 318mm
laid paper watermarked with a fleur de lis within coronet design, and with a horizontal crease 150mm from the top edge of the paper
mounted by the artist.
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne. delt / Rome. June 27. 1781 / No45”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Temple of Vesta é Tempio della Fortuna Viele [“June 27th 1781” scratched out] / Oggi Chiesa di St. Maria. / Rome Francis Towne delt.”
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.1.18).

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. 159 as 'Temple of Vesta'
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, pp. 43, 75, 126
Martin Hardie, Water-Colour Painting in Britain, ed. Dudley Snelgrove, London: B. T. Batsford, 1966, p. 121
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, pp. 113-114
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 80


The Temple of Vesta (actually dedicated to Hercules Victor) on the left and the Temple of Portunus (popularly known as the Temple of Fortuna Virilis) are a short distance south of the Tarpeian Rock and Capitol area of Rome. Giovanni Volpato and Louis Ducros featured the building from Towne’s viewpoint in their hand-coloured prints of the 1780s, and a view by John Robert Cozens, from his first visit to Rome, is also known in a Munro School copy.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 T. Girtin and J. M. W. Turner after J. R. Cozens: The Temple of Vesta, 1790s? (

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