Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • On the Banks of the Tiber near Ponte Molle
Pencil, pen and grey ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 208mm,
  • image length 269mm
laid paper with an indistinct watermark
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne. delt. Rome. /Octr. 17.1780. No.3”
  • in black ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.3 / On the Banks of the Tyber near Ponte Molle. / Francis Towne delt. / from 10 o Clock till 1 / Rome [indistinct date scratched out] Octr 17.1780”
  • in dark brown ink
Object Type

Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Author's examination of the object


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.2.03).

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. 137 as 'Banks of the Tyber, Sabine Mountains in the distance'; or 145, On the banks of the Tyber near Ponte Molle'
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. 199
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 123
Martin Hardie, Water-Colour Painting in Britain, ed. Dudley Snelgrove, London: B. T. Batsford, 1966, p. 120
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 109
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 55


The scene is the area north of Rome popularly known as “Poussin’s Walk” and close to the countryside depicted in FT172 and FT174. Nicholas Poussin was said to have undertaken meditative walks in this area, and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century visitors emulated him by walking along the banks of the Tiber on a route named after the artist. Towne based an oil painting (FT572) on this drawing, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792.

Thomas Jones’s view of this subject is dated 24 February 1777 and Goethe drew here on 1 August 1787.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 British Museum, 1981,0516.17.33; P. Chiarini, ed., Goethe a Roma: disegni e aquerelli da Weimar (Rome, 1988), no.36.

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