Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • A view on the Palatine Hill
Pencil, pen and brown ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 325mm,
  • image length 474mm
laid paper watermarked "J WHATMAN"
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked "J WHATMAN 1794"
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F Towne / delt 1781 No40”
  • in dark brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.40 / Rome / A View taken on the Palatine Mount / by / Francis Towne / 1781 [the year over indistinct scratched-out text]”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), who gave it in 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum, London (Nn.1.13).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum
James White (1744 - 1825)
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 174, 175, 176, 177 or 178 as 'On the Palatine Mount'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
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. 201
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 76, 126
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 113


This is a south-west view from the Palatine Hill looking towards the Aventine Hill on the right and the pyramidal tomb of Caio Cesto in the centre. To the left of the tomb are visible the ancient walls of Rome and the two towers of the Porta San Paolo, just beyond which was the Protestant cemetery, where William Pars was to be buried the year after Towne made this sketch. The strong, yellow, setting sun provides appropriate lighting for a scene with such mortuary components.

Pen does not dominate in this view and the foreground-right portion has been picked out heavily in dark brown ink and gum, a sign of it having been worked up around the time when the mount was applied.

by Richard Stephens

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