Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Monte Porzio Catone from the Park of the Villa Mondragone at Frascati
  • Monte Porzio from the Villa Mondragone, Frascati
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 386mm,
  • image length 498mm
mounted by the artist, the mount watermarked with a fleur de lis design dated "1788"
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No56 / Monta Porzia, from the park of the Villa Dragona at Frescati, / The Morning light coming over the Tivoli mountains, / Drawn & tinted on the Spot, by Francis Towne / 1781[in dark brown ink over scratching out]”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Wilcox 1997 (image)


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 (Nn.1.25).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1816, Nn.1.25
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 150 as 'Monte Porzia, with the morning sun rising over the Sabine mountains, from the Villa Dragone at Frascati'
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 33
Light, time, legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome, British Museum, 2016
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 112
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, pp. 17, 86


This early-morning view looks towards Monte Porzio Catone, a nearby ancient hilltop town developed by the Borghese family, who built the church of S. Gregorio Magno visible in Towne’s drawing.

Wilcox suggested that Towne’s work at Frascati shows his awareness of the tradition that Gaspar Dughet had a home there for the purposes of making early morning studies.1 He also pointed out the uniqueness of this work in being the only one known that Towne recorded as having been both drawn and coloured on the spot, noting also that the paper’s great absorbency made this viable.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Wilcox 1997, p.86.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.