Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • On Lake Como
ca. 1781/08/27 - 1781/08/28
Pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour, scratching out
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 213mm
mounted by the artist on paper with pin holes at the corners of the mount
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “On the Lake of Como”
  • in dark brown either over pencil or over faint black ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Wilcox 1997 (image)


Untraced until sold anonymously at Foster’s on 27 July 1910, lot 151 (a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT318, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793, FT862) for 25s. to Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.54). Oppé gave it in December 1920 to Sabina Girtin, wife(?) of Thomas Girtin (1874/1875–1960). It was acquired in 1970 by John Baskett and sold to Paul Mellon (1907–1999), who gave it to the current owner, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (B1986.29.489).

Associated People & Organisations

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1986, B1986.29.489
Mr Paul Mellon (1907 - 1999), 1970
John Baskett (1907), 1970
Acquired on behalf of Paul Mellon
Sabina Girtin, December 1920
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), London, 27 July 1910, GBP 25s, no.54
Foster's auctioneers (1883 - 1940), 27 July 1910, lot 151
Sold as a group with FT228, FT257, FT283, FT284, FT296, FT310, FT318, FT319, FT325, FT326, FT327, FT329, FT330, FT339, FT340, FT361, FT793 and a drawing by an unidentified pupil
Exhibition History
Cambridge University Pictorial Arts Society, Fitzwilliam Museum, 1923, no. 73
Catalogue of a collection of pictures, drawings, furniture and works of art of the Empire and Regency period : select examples of Romano-British art, Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1929, no. 10
Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century: Francis Hayman RA, Francis Towne, John White Abbott, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, 1951, no. 36
Early Water-colours from the Collection of Thomas Girtin Jnr., Graves Art Gallery, 1953, no. 99
The Girtin Collection, Royal Academy, 1962, no. 4
Thomas Girtin and some of his Contemporaries, Reading Museum and Art Gallery, 1969, no. 2
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 36
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 148


Although this drawing is undated, it was presumably made on 27 or 28 August. The pin holes at the corners of the mount are suggestive of this drawing having been displayed at Towne’s 1805 exhibition, but the view does not correspond very closely with the titles in the catalogue. Perhaps the pin holes are instead something to do with this drawing’s presence in the group that emerged at Foster’s in 1910.

by Richard Stephens

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