Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Lake Albano
  • Lake Albano with Castel Gandolfo
Pencil, pen and black and grey inks, watercolour
  • image width 323mm,
  • image length 649mm
two sheets, the larger of which has a vertical crease at its centre and is watermarked with a design of fleur de lis within a crown
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “No7 Francis Towne / delt July 12. 1781”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Italy / No.7 Lake of Albano / taken July 1781 / Francis Towne / Morning light from the left hand”
  • in dark brown ink
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 in 1818 to the present owner, the British Museum (Nn,3.11).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1818, Nn,3.11
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860 at the British Museum, British Museum, 1985, no. 37
unidentified exhibition, 1991, no. 17
The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880, Royal Academy of Arts, 1993, no. 269
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. 202
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 88, 127
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 112
Ann Sumner and Greg Smith (ed.), Thomas Jones (1742-1803) : An Artist Rediscovered, Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2003, pp. 181-182


The view includes Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence, to the left of the lake. Although Towne’s inscription describes the morning light as coming from the left, the confused shading suggests light sources from both left and right. It is the second of two drawings Towne made of Lake Albano on the morning of 12 July (also 293).

John “Warwick” Smith published a view of the lake similar to Towne’s in his Select Views.1 John Robert Cozens’s view is known in several versions, and Thomas Jones painted the same view, based on a watercolour inscribed “A View from a Capuchin convent at Albano looking over Castello Gandolfo”.2

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Smith 1792, vol.2, pl.40.
  2. 2 Sumner & Smith 2003, pp.181–82.

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