Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View near the Arco Scuro Looking towards the Villa Medici
Pencil (?), pen and grey and brown inks, watercolour
  • image width 325mm,
  • image length 480mm
formerly mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “Francis Towne delt / 1785”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.2. A View near the Arco Scuro, looking towards / The Villa Medici, at Rome / Drawn / by / Francis Towne / 1785
  • now detached from the drawing
Object Type

Near the Arco Oscuro
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Sotheby's records (image)


Probably commissioned by Thomas Snow of Cleve (1748–1832), but perhaps by Ann Fortescue, née Sanders (1755–1815), of Buckland House. Thereafter untraced until its sale by Mrs J. Leahy at Sotheby’s on 20 April 1972, lot 31, for £1,700 to Agnew’s (no.1201), who bought it on behalf of a client. It was sold again at Sotheby’s on 12 March 1987, lot 80, for £30,000. In 1998 it was in a “collection particuliere”, presumably the collection of Ian Craft, who offered it for sale at Sotheby’s on 14 July 2010, where it was bought by Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel of Munich, from whom it was purchased in 2010 by the current owner, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2010.439).

Associated People & Organisations

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, 2010.439
Katrin Bellinger, Munich, 14 July 2010
Sotheby's, London, London, 14 July 2010
Ian Craft
Private Collection, 12 March 1987, GBP 30000
Sotheby's, London, London, 12 March 1987, lot 80
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 20 April 1972, GBP 1700, no.1201
Sotheby's, London, London, 20 April 1972, lot 31
Mrs J. Leahy
Ann Fortescue (née Sanders) (1755 - 1815), Beaworthy, January 1786
Gerald Bauer, Le Siecle d'Or de L'Aquarelle Anglaise, Biblioth: Paris, 1998, p. 45


This is a version of a sketch Towne had made in Rome in November 1780 (FT185).

Much of the drawing has no pen and ink, befitting its status as a finished watercolour made on commission. Towne’s colouring is also schematic, typical of his commissioned works of the mid-1780s, especially in the use of brown (for comparison, see FT535, FT536).

by Richard Stephens

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