Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Villa Mellini
Pencil, pen and grey ink, grey wash
  • image width 325mm,
  • image length 230mm
laid paper
  • sheet, verso
  • “No50 [the number over “49”]/ Rome / Villa Malini / July 20th. 1781 / drawn on the spot by Francis Towne / evening sun from the left hand”
  • in brown ink
Object Type
Monochrome wash

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object

Information supplied by the owner


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), on whose death it passed to Towne’s residuary legatee John Herman Merivale (1779–1844) and his successors. Merivale’s granddaughters Maria Sophia Merivale (1853–1928) and Judith Ann Merivale (1860–1945), both of Oxford, inherited the drawing in May 1915 (BP26). On 1 March 1935 Judith Merivale sold it to Agnew’s (no.11702) for £8, where it was bought the same day by Mrs Pilkington for £10 (presumably Margaret Pilkington [1891–1974]). It was sold at Sotheby’s, London, on 21 November 1985, lot 58, to Leger Galleries. It was on sale with Lowell Libson in 2009 and has since been acquired by a private collector.

Associated People & Organisations

Thomas Agnew & Sons
Leger Galleries
Lowell Libson
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844)
Judith Ann Merivale (1860 - 1945)
Maria Sophia Merivale (1853 - 1928)
Mrs Pilkington
Private Collection
Sotheby's, London
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
Annual Exhibition of Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1935, no. 114
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 78


Villa Mellini was the building on top of Monte Mario that is visible in FT172. Its prominent position made it a popular site from which to view Rome. Jacob Phillip Hackert made a view of Rome from there in the autumn of 1781, which was engraved ca. 1782, and Giovanni Lusieri also used it as the viewpoint for one of his panoramas of Rome in the early 1780s.

Paul Oppe’s note reads: “26. ½ 25 [i.e. FT206]. Bold crumble foliage. hatching with pen. Bold ind ink. A park study. larger & stronger than Devon.”1

Towne drew this study just over a week after having visited Arricia (FT297). In both drawings a large dark foreground tree serves to cloak a light source entering from the left, with a tall cypress tree drawing the viewer into the scene.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Paul Oppé records: notes, ca. 1915.

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