Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Inside the Colosseum
ca. 1780
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour
  • image height 472mm,
  • image length 319mm
laid paper, with a horizontal crease across its centre
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne del / No.25 / Rome”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.25 Inside of the Coloseo from 2 till 5 O Clock / Rome. Francis Towne”
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.2.30).

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. 164, 165, 166, 167 or 168 as 'Inside of the Coliseo; this edifice is of Travertina stone'; or 169 or 171 as 'Inside of the Coliseo'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 19
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. 125


This study appears to be a view of one of the ruined staircases running between the first and second floors of the Colosseum. A similar study is known by Joseph Wright of Derby,1 and like other treatments of the Colosseum, Piranesi’s influence is strong. “Warwick” Smith also drew this view.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Ca. 1773–75, see Egerton 1990.
  2. 2 British Museum 1936,0704.17.

Revisions & Feedback

The website will be updated from time to time and, when changes are made, a PDF of the previous version of each page will be archived here for consultation and citation.

Please help us to improve this catalogue

If you have information, a correction or any other suggestions to improve this catalogue, please contact us.