Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • Part of the Ancient Roman Wall between Porta Salara and Porta Pinciana
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour with gum
  • image width 207mm,
  • image length 271mm
laid paper
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne delt. Rome / Octr 31st. 1780. No.6”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.6 / Part of the antient Roman wall between Porta Salasa & Porta Pinciana / with St. Peters in the Distance & the Villa of Count Peruchi on the right hand / Francis Towne delt. / from 3 O Clock till ½ past 5 / in the afternoon / Octr 3d. 1780 [the date inscribed in dark brown ink over the earlier scratched-out “Oct 31st 1780.”]”
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.2.06).

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. 142 as 'Roman Wall between Porta Salaro and Porta Pinciano near the Arco Scuro'
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



This is a view between Porta Pinciana and Porta Salara just beyond the north-east perimeter of Rome. Towne’s “Villa of Count Peruchi” is marked on Nolli’s 1748 map of Rome as “Vigna Perucchi” (Perucchi’s Vineyard), which was beyond the ancient wall between the two gates described by Towne. Towne must be looking roughly west to St Peter’s with the city walls on his left and Peruchi’s perimeter wall on his right. This portion of ancient Roman wall was of special interest to eighteenth-century visitors because of the ancient funerary monument uncovered during Renaissance building work, but in any case views looking over Rome’s ancient walls to gardens beyond constituted a popular sub-genre for English artists of Towne’s time, with other examples at FT187 and FT189. John Robert Cozens drew such a view as a gift for his and Towne’s friend, Ozias Humphrey.1

This may be the first drawing Towne made in Rome. If the 3 October date is accurate, it is certainly the earliest one that survives. Towne made an oil version of the drawing dated 1800 (FT616).

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 John Robert Cozens, View near the Porta Pinciana, 1780 (Sotheby’s).

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