Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Colosseum
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 310mm,
  • image length 465mm
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne / 1799”
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rome The Coloseo, with the Baths of Titus, & Arch of Constantine, taken from the Palatine Mount. Francis Towne delt 1799”
Object Type

The Colosseum
Catalogue Number
Description Sources
Examination; Museum records; 1998 Royal Academy catalogue (image)


Probably commissioned by Arthur Harington Champernowne (1768–1819), whose great-great-granddaughter Katharine Iris Paull of Chichester sold it at Sotheby’s on 30 July 1952, lot 14, for £200 to Agnew’s (no.6969), from whom on 4 December 1952 it was bought for £240 by the present owner, the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford (P96).

Associated People & Organisations

Higgins Bedford, Bedford, 4 December 1952, GBP 240, P96
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London, 30 July 1952, GBP 200, no.6969
Sotheby's, London, London, 30 July 1952, lot 14
Katharine Iris Paull, Chichester
[?] Arthur Harington Champernowne (1768 - 1819), 1799
Exhibition History
English Watercolours from the Hickman Bacon and other Collections, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, 1952, no. 70
English Watercolours, 1750-1850, Norwich Castle Museum, 1955, no. 16
Watercolours and Drawings from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1962, no. 14
Primitives to Picasso, Royal Academy, 1962, no. 362
Watercolours from Bedford, Castle Museum, 1965, no. 56
English Watercolours from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Reading Museum and Art Gallery, 1965, no. 53
Art Treasures of England: The Regional Collections, Royal Academy, 1998, no. 212
Adrian Bury, The Cecil Higgins Museum Bedford, ed. Adrian Bury: London, 1961, p. 35
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, pp. 103, 138
Evelyn Joll, Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Watercolours and Drawings, Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery: Bedford, 2002, p. 264


This is a copy of FT193 but with colouring and weak pen line that begin to betray its late date. Nonetheless the closeness to the original—the retention, for instance, of penlines—is notable. John “Warwick” Smith made a very similar view that was engraved for his publication, Select Views

This is one of several Towne drawings that were sold by the Champernowne family early in the twentieth century.

by Richard Stephens

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