Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • On the Palatine Hill
1781/02/05 - 1781/02/08
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image height 314mm,
  • image length 470mm
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne delt / [. . .] No.27”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.27 / On the Palatine Mount, looking towards Mount Aventine. Febry 8h 1781 [over scratched-out “Febry 5th 1781”] / Rome Francis Towne delt. / Mrs. J. Fortescue. of Buckland House, Devonshire / had a Copy of this [“Janry 1786” scratched out]”
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.1.1).

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. 174, 175, 176, 177 or 178 as 'On the Palatine Mount'
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. 125


This is a view looking south-west from Mount Palatine across the Circus Maximus to Mount Aventine. The foreground ruins are probably the southern range of the Domus Augusta. The distant hilltop buildings are the churches of the Aventine, Santa Sabina and Sant’Alessio. Towne made a copy of this drawing dated 1786 (FT426), although probably not the one for Mrs Fortescue of Buckland House, as it was owned until 1952 by a Mrs Llewellyn, who was a descendant of Thomas Snow (1748–1832). Mrs Fortescue’s copy, supposing that it is not FT426, is not known.

A view from near the spot that Towne used, and showing the ruin that occupies Towne’s left foreground, was made by Richard Wilson for the Earl of Dartmouth.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 Richard Wilson, View on the Palatine Hill, early 1750s (Ford 1951).

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