Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • From the Palatine Hill
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image width 317mm,
  • image length 472mm
laid paper with a fleur de lis watermark and a vertical crease down its centre
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked "J WHATMAN"
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne. delt. Rome / Novr 20. 1780. No.13.”
  • in black ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.13. / From Mount Palatine. from 12 O Clock till 2. / Rome. Francis Towne. delt. 1781”
  • the year inscribed in dark brown ink, the rest in brown ink
  • verso
  • indistinct
  • in brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


Bequeathed by the artist in 1816 to James White (1744–1825) of Exeter, who gave it in 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum, London (Nn.2.19).

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. 173 as 'From the Palatine Mount'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860 at the British Museum, British Museum, 1985, no. 32
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. 200
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 124
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 56
Andrew Wilton and Annie Lyles, The Great Age of British Watercolours, Royal Academy of Arts: London, 1993, fig. 21


circa 1776-1781

This is the Church of SS Giovanni and Paolo adjacent to the Palatine Hill. On the left are the Colosseum and the Claudian Aqueduct (FT199) and on the far right is the Piazza S. Gregorio and buildings associated with the Church of S. Gregorio. Towne made the view halfway up the Palatine Hill on or adjacent to the gardens of the English College, whose wall appears in the far-right corner. The path running alongside the college, which led from the Via di S. Gregorio to the Church and Convent of S. Bonaventura (the church featured in FT182), is prominent in the foreground. The right half of a sketch that Thomas Jones drew in “the garden of the English college” shows a very similar scene to the far-left portion of Towne’s work here.1

The Church of SS Giovanni and Paolo was in the centre of the historic area of Rome most picked over by eighteenth-century visitors. It was therefore a popular subject, with versions surviving by John “Warwick” Smith (British Museum) and Nicolas-Didier Boguet.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Thomas Jones, View from the Palatine Hill, 1778 (Sumner & Smith 2003).
  2. 2 Nicolas-Didier Boguet, Church of SS Giovanni and Paolo, 1783 (Hornsby 2002).

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