Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Old Wall of Rome at the back of the Villa Medici
  • The Walls of Rome, looking towards the Medici Gardens
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour, gum
  • image height 319mm,
  • image length 474mm
the paper has a watermark with a fleur-de-lis design and has a vertical crease down its centre
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower centre
  • “F.Towne / delt. 1781 / No34”
  • in dark brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “Rome No.34 / The old Wall of Rome at the back / of the Villa Medici. / drawn on the Spot by / Francis Towne [“July 3rd. 1781.” 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.1.8).

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. 157 as 'The Walls of Rome, looking towards the Medici Gardens'
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. 201
Adrian Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-Colour Painting, Charles Skilton: London, 1962, p. 125
Paul Oppé, 'Francis Towne, Landscape Painter', The Walpole Society: London, 1920, p. 111
Timothy Wilcox, Francis Towne, Tate Publishing: London, 1997, p. 56


This wall was probably between the Porta del Popolo and the Porta Pinciana, and bordered a public garden where Sallust’s villa was supposed to have been. It seems to have been a popular subject among Towne’s contemporaries, with drawings known by John “Warwick” Smith and Joseph Wright of Derby.1

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 For Wright of Derby’s treatment, ca. 1773–75, see Nicolson 1968.

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