Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Baths of Caracalla
Pencil, pen and grey and brown ink, watercolour, gum
  • image width 325mm,
  • image length 504mm
two sheets of laid paper with a vertical crease down the centre of the larger sheet
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “No35 / F.Towne. delt / Janry 1781”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rome light from the left hand / No35 / The Baths of Caracalla / Janry 1781 [the date over the inscription “Janry 1781”] drawn / on the Spot by / Francis Towne”
  • in brown ink
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.1.9).

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. 181 as 'Baths of Caracalla'
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, 125
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 157
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 111
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 69


This is a view looking north-east from the top of the Baths of Caracalla towards the Vatican. Church buildings on the Aventine Hill are visible in the middle distance (they can be seen from the opposite direction in FT210). 

Near the top of the fragmentary arch, just left of centre of the drawing, Towne has drawn some foliage to suggest a bearded human head. Other examples of Towne’s rendering of anamorphic foliage are seen in FT238 and FT640.

by Richard Stephens

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