Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Mountains on the Road from Florence
ca. 1781/08
Pencil, pen and brown and grey inks, watercolour, gum
  • image width 156mm,
  • image length 211mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “8”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “August 1781 / the mountains about [. . .] miles / on the road from Florence / No.8 / Francis Towne”
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Untraced until sold at Robinson & Fisher on 9 May 1935, lot 48 (as by Turner), where it was bought by Paul Oppé (1878–1957; no.2093), whose descendants sold it in 1996 with the rest of Oppé’s collection to the present owner, the Tate Gallery (T08554).

Associated People & Organisations

Tate, London, 1996, T08554
Adolph Paul Oppé (1878 - 1957), 9 May 1935, no.2093
Robinson & Fisher, 9 May 1935, lot 48
Attributed to Turner
Exhibition History
Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 129 as 'The Appenines 18 miles from Florence'
76th Annual Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1949, no. 13
Exhibition of Works from The Paul Oppe Collection, Royal Academy, 1958, no. 99
Exhibition of Works from The Paul Oppe Collection, National Gallery of Canada, 1961, no. 38
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 146


John “Warwick” Smith published his version of this view in Select Views of Italy, which he called In the Apennines between Bologna and Florence.1 In the text Smith described the view as being

near Monte Carelli, about twenty miles distant from Florence. . . . It presents a plain, covered with the most luxuriant herbage, watered by a small but clear stream, and beautifully contrasted by surrounding promontories of wood and rock: Beyond these, the mountains, in grand and picturesque forms, are seen rising, one above the other, till they seem lost in the colourless hue of the atmosphere; the whole together forming a beautiful and interesting composition.

Smith also noted the name of the inn, La Maschere, which he and Towne used when passing through Cafaggiolo a few miles back. Smith considered it the only good inn in the area, stating that the beautiful scenery near Montecarelli must “in some degree, compensate for the very indifferent accommodations he [the traveller] must submit to”.2 Towne and Smith probably did not stay the night at La Maschere, as this sketch, a few miles north, is evidently an evening view, with lighting from the west. Smith’s comment about indifferent accommodations was perhaps based on personal experience, therefore.

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Smith 1792, vol.1, pl.4.
  2. 2 Ibid., note to pl.4.

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