Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Claudian Aqueduct
  • The Claudian Aquaduct, Rome
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 322mm,
  • image length 472mm
paper with a fleur-de-lis watermark
mounted by the artist, with pin hole marks at the corners of the mount
  • sheet, recto, lower right
  • “F.Towne delt / 1785”
  • in black ink, small neat hand
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.4 A View of the Claudian Aqueduct at Rome / looking towards mount Palatine / Drawn by / Francis Towne / 1785”
  • in neat handwriting
Object Type

The Claudian Aqueduct
The Claudian Aqueduct
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records (image)


Commissioned by Thomas Snow of Cleve (1748–1832) and descended to his great-great-granddaughter Miss Audrey Wilmot Snow of Cleve (1891–1972). On 9 June 1950 the drawing was sold by the Polak Gallery to the Fine Art Society (no.5541) for £200 with FT432. There it was bought in July 1950 by Sir William Worsley, Bt (1890–1973), for £315 with 432. Subsequently it was acquired by Paul Mellon (1907–1999), who gave it in 1978 to the present owner, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (B1978.43.170).

Associated People & Organisations

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1978, B1978.43.170
Mr Paul Mellon (1907 - 1999)
Sir William Worsley (1890 - 1973), July 1950, GBP 315
Acquired with FT432
The Fine Art Society, London, London, 9 June 1950, GBP 200 , no.5541
Acquired with FT432
Polak Gallery, 9 June 1950
Audrey Wilmot Snow (1891 - 1972), Exwick, Exeter
Thomas Snow (1748 - 1832), Exwick, Exeter
Exhibition History
Watercolours by Francis Towne, City Art Gallery, 1950
Recent Acquisitions, Yale Center for British Art, 1978
Classic Ground, Yale Center for British Art, 1981, no. 67
Presences of Nature, Yale Center for British Art, 1982, no. III, 15
Acquisitions: the First Decade, Yale Center for British Art, 1987, no. 126
Edward Lear and the Art of Travel, Yale Center for British Art, 2000, no. 159
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 142
Sir William Worsley, Early English Water-Colours at Hovingham Hall: 1963, p. 12


This is a copy of a sketch Towne made in Rome in February 1781 (FT199). Towne made a further copy for Mrs Fortescue of Buckland House, now lost (FT429). 

The presence of pin holes in the mount are interesting, as they indicate that it was once pinned up for display. Perhaps Towne made the watercolour speculatively and displayed it like this in Exeter for sale? Or perhaps this is how Thomas Snow displayed it. It is a somewhat simplified and more schematic version of the source drawing, lacking some of the vitality of the earlier work.

by Richard Stephens

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