Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Lake Nemi
  • The lake of Nemi
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 395mm,
  • image length 509mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “No.64 / Lake of Nemi / Francis Towne delt / 1781.”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.64 Italy / Lake of Nemi / Francis Towne delt / 1781 / Mounted / June 1811.”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Wilcox 1997 (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,3.4).

Associated People & Organisations

British Museum, London, 1818, Nn,3.4
James White (1744 - 1825), Exeter, 1816
Exhibition History
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
Travels in Italy 1776-1783 based on the Memoirs of Thomas Jones, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 1988, no. 68
Francis Towne, Tate Gallery; Leeds City Art Gallery, 24 June 1997 - 4 January 1998, no. 34
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. 80, 111, 127
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 112


This is a view looking east, with the town of Nemi on the left and Gensano on the far right. The view was much depicted by artists of Towne’s time, including John Robert Cozens, who made seven versions. As with Towne’s views of Frascati (FT285, FT286, FT287, FT288, FT289, FT290), the evidence of Towne’s fingermarks suggests that the washes in this sketch were applied on the spot. Towne’s inscription shows that it was mounted very late (see also FT203, FT257), although the drawing itself appears untouched.

by Richard Stephens

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