Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Tomb of the Plautii
  • 'Tomb of Plautus', near Tivoli
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour, gum
  • image width 190mm,
  • image length 245mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F Towne delt 1781”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Tomb of Plautus / Near Tivoli / Francis Towne delt / 1781”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White of Exeter (1744–1825), who gave it to the present owner, the British Museum, London in 1816 (Nn,2.13).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1816, Nn,2.13
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. 148 as 'Tomb of Plautus near Tivoli'
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. 199
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 124
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 156


This is a view of Ponte Lucano and the Tomb of the Plautii on the Via Tiburtina as it crosses the River Aniene just west of Tivoli. The family tomb of Lucanus Plautius was fortified in the medieval era, resulting in a structure similar in appearance to the tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via Appia Antica in Rome. The site was a popular tourist view depicted by many artists, including “Warwick” Smith, Ducros, and Piranesi.1 

This drawing was probably exhibited at Towne’s 1805 exhibition and he perhaps reinforced it with fresh washes in anticipation of the show as it shows signs of late work.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 John “Warwick” Smith, The Tomb of the Plautii, late eighteenth/early nineteenth century (Witt Library); A. L. R. Ducros, The Tomb of the Plautii, ca. 1789 (Zutter 1998); G. B. Piranesi, The Tomb of the Plautii, ca. 1748–78 (Ficacci 2000).

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