Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Near the Arco Oscuro
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 227mm,
  • image length 322mm
laid paper, with an indistinct watermark
mounted by the artist on paper watermarked 'WHATMAN'
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne delt. Rome / May 7. 1781 No38”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.38 / Near the Arco scuro [indistinct date scratched out] / Francis Towne delt. May 7h. 1781 [the date in dark brown ink] from 11 till 1 O Clock / Rome.”
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 1816 to the present owner, the British Museum, London (Nn.1.11).

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
'A Noble Art' - Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters c.1600-1800, British Museum, 2000, no. 135
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. 201
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 126
Henri Lemaitre, Le Paysage Anglais a l'Aquarelle 1760-1951, Bordas: Paris, 1955, p. 158


William Pars also drew this view, which probably shows part of Villa Giulia or Villa Giustiani. Other drawings made in the vicinity are FT184, FT185, FT187, FT188, and FT211. A sketch by Thomas Jones of these buildings, dated 4 March 1777, is inscribed “Near the Borghese Park”.1

There is an echo of the wall and building here in the drawing that Towne made for a pupil to copy in 1793 (FT900).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 British Museum, 1981,0516.18.5.

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