Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View near Vicavasso, of Part of the Convent of St Cosimato, with the Modern Bridge on the Anio, and Part of the Claudian Aqueduct
No date
Oil (?)on canvas
  • image width 1295mm,
  • image length 1676mm
Object Type
Oil painting

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Paul Oppé notes; Oppé 1920


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 granddaughter, Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853–1923), inherited the painting in 1915, whereafter it is untraced.

Associated People & Organisations

Emily Harriet Buckingham (1853 - 1923), 1915
John Herman Merivale (1779 - 1844), 1825
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
Works of British artists placed in the Gallery of the British Institution, Pall-Mall for exhibition and Sale, British Institution, 1811, no. as 'A view near Vicavasso, of part of the convent of St.Cosimato, with the modern bridge on the Anio, and part of the Claudian aqueduct, measuring 1295 x 1676mm'
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, pp. 101-102


This picture appeared to Oppé to be based on an engraving of J. P. Hackert’s gouache (figure 1). Emily Buckingham owned Towne’s copy of the engraving, which perhaps he acquired in Italy.

Oppé writes of this picture:

Towne’s characteristics in oil emerge very clearly from a fourth picture, a view of San Cosimato, also from Barton Place, but now belonging to Miss E Buckingham, since it appears to be based, not on one of his own sketches, but on an engraving after Hackert. Such development of other men’s ideas is not uncommon [see FT557] . . . Towne follows the engraving faithfully in the general lines and does nothing to add elegance or grace to its barrenness, but while it is uniformly dull and flat, ill-lighted, and little more than a poor composition in one tone, Towne’s hills are nobler in shape, and subtly and richly toned, his lighting effective and the handling solid.1 

Although he appears to have based this work on the Hackert print, Towne had visited the area himself in 1781 (FT246, FT247, FT248, FT249FT250). In an unpublished note Oppé suggested that Towne’s work was not so closely based on Hackert: “The oil painting is a variant of Hackert engraving 1780 Convent of S Cosimato He has improved the lighting & giving character & atmosphere to the hills. . . . Also improved compositing bringing rock forward & into shadow, convent to the Right & in light. Reducing bridge & concentrating the hills.”2

circa 1780

Figure 1.
G. Hackert after J. P. Hackert, Convent of San Cosimato, circa 1780

Digital image courtesy of Witt Photographic Library

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Oppé 1920, p.102.
  2. 2 Paul Oppé records.

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