Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A View of Loreto with Part of the Adriatic Sea
ca. 1780 - 1781
Pencil (?), pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 315mm,
  • image length 472mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “Francis Towne”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “View of Loretto with part of the Adriatic Sea”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Museum records (image)


Untraced until bequeathed by writer and poet Dorothy Una Ratcliffe (1891–1967) to the present owner, Cartwright Hall Museum, Bradford.

Associated People & Organisations

Cartwright Hall Museum, Bradford, 1967
Dorothy Una Ratcliffe (1891 - 1967)
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 58


Loreto was a centre of pilgrimage due to the Chiesa della Casa Santa (Church of the Holy House), the domed building of Towne’s view that contained the supposed remains of the house of the Virgin Mary. As he probably visited Loreto on his way down to Rome in 1780 (the city was on the standard southward route), Towne would have missed Loreto’s major festival on 8 September, but would have been attracted nonetheless by its picture gallery with works by Lorenzo Lotto, Simon Vouet and the Carracci, and the cathedral’s mosaics by Domenichino and Guido Reni, among other art holdings

Towne has emphasised the religious character of the subject by replacing his more usual rustic figures with a religious procession. Towne’s view is similar to John “Warwick” Smith’s drawing published in his Select Views.

The drawing seems to date from the mid- to late 1780s and would have been based on a sketch made on the spot, now lost (FT170).

by Richard Stephens

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