Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Tivoli
  • A distant view of Tivoli
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 248mm,
  • image length 393mm
wove paper
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked "J WHATMAN 1794"
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne / delt. 1781”
  • in brown ink, save the year, which is in black ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Italy / No.8 / Tivoli / drawn on the Spot / by Francis Towne / [“April 26th 1781” scratched out] 1781”
  • all in brown ink, save the year which is in dark brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825) and given by him in 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum (Nn.2.16).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1816, Nn,2.16
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
British Artists in Europe, Whitworth Art Gallery, 1973, no. 8
British Artists in Rome 1700-1800, Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, 1974, no. 141
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. 199
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 123
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 112
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 57


This shows broadly the same scene as FT252. Wilcox stated that the earliest Tivoli view was 1 May (meaning FT257), but Towne dated this a few days before.1 The dark colours, the use of gum and the neat watercolour and ink hatchings all point to significant workings long after 1781. Towne’s fingerprints are evident in the top-centre edge of the sky.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wilcox 1997, p.57.

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