Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The City and Lake of Como
No date
Pencil, watercolour, gum, scratching out
  • image width 505mm,
  • image length 760mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “Francis Towne / delt 1800”
  • in brown ink, over an erased date, probably “1796”, as the middle two digits go below the line and the fourth goes above
Object Type

The City and Lake of Como
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Sotheby’s records (image)


Untraced prior to its sale at Sotheby’s on 11 November 1993, lot 40, for £3,800. It was sold again at Sotheby’s on 30 June 2005, lot 251, for £5,000, presumably to John Spink, who offered it for sale in November 2005.

Associated People & Organisations

Private Collection
John Spink, London, November 2005
Sotheby's, London, London, 30 June 2005, GBP 5000, lot 251
Sotheby's, London, London, 11 November 1993, GBP 3800, lot 40
Exhibition History
[?] Exhibition of Original Drawings at the Gallery, No.20 Lower Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, 20 Lower Brook Street, 1805, no. 128 as 'The City and Lake of Como'
The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, Royal Academy of Arts, 1808, no. 467 as 'The City and Lake of Como'
Francis Towne and his Friends, John Spink at Colnaghi, 2005, no. 13


This is one of three treatments of the subject, based on an untraced 1781 sketch; the other watercolours are dated 1785 and 1787 (FT424, FT535). Perhaps the present work was the exhibit of 1805 (although equally that may have been the lost source drawing), and very probably it was shown in 1808, when Towne’s work was hung in the Royal Academy’s Council Room, which had long been the prime display area for watercolours. For Towne’s remaining exhibits of 1808 see FT562, FT616, FT617, FT645, FT645a, and FT646.

The drawing has been heavily cleaned between its appearances at Sotheby’s in 1993 and 2005 and most of Towne’s orange evening effect has been lost.

by Richard Stephens

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