Compositions and Copies, 1782–95

Richard Stephens

Most of the entries in this section comprise works that Towne made as part of his practice as a drawing master, and were intended to be copied by his pupils. Not all are dated but, of those that are, the latest year given is 1795. Towne probably produced large series of compositions for copying, as a few are numbered (the highest number being 40 [FT795]). Their status as works to be copied is confirmed in several cases by the survival of copies, such as in the circular landscape (FT792) known in two versions by pupils (FT839, FT845). Another composition (FT794) was copied by a pupil in about 1790, in a version to which Towne himself appears to have contributed (FT852). The drawings to be copied are either didactic compositions of Towne’s own invention, often notable for their adherence to a Bolognese style of landscape composition in which the pen is prominent, or are themselves copies after seventeenth-century or contemporary masters (FT799, FT803, FT804).

Two sketches in this section seem not to have functioned as copy drawings: one was a private visual memorandum of a painting Towne had seen some years before (FT805), another is a scene from Shakespeare, perhaps drawn as an exercise in composition (FT790).

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Article title
Compositions and Copies, 1782–95
Richard Stephens
Article DOI
Cite as
Richard Stephens, "Compositions and Copies, 1782–95", A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016),

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