Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Near the Arco Oscuro
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 319mm,
  • image length 470mm
laid paper with a vertical crease down its centre
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne delt. Rome / Novr. 25.- 1780. No.15.”
  • in black ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.15. / Near the Arco Scuro. looking towards [“May 7th. 1781” scratched out] / the Villa Medici / Rome. Francis Towne delt. / Mrs. J. Fortescue. of Buckland House Devonshire / had a copy of this [“Janry 1786” scratched out]”
  • all in brown ink
Object Type

A View near the Arco Scuro Looking towards the Villa Medici
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 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum, London (Nn.2.21).

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. 154, 155 or 156 as 'Near the Arco Oscuro'
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
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. 67


This is a view made in the Arco Oscuro (see the Comment at FT184), looking towards the towers of the Villa Medici. Towne made a copy of this drawing (FT425), perhaps the version commissioned by Mrs Fortescue of Buckland, Devonshire. Judging by the inscription on FT194, Towne meant that the drawing was delivered, not commissioned, in January 1786.

by Richard Stephens

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