Francis Towne (1739 - 1816)
  • The Palatine Hill
1781/03/01 - 1781/03/31
Pencil, pen and black ink, watercolour
  • image width 328mm,
  • image length 473mm
laid paper
mounted by the artist
  • sheet, recto, lower left
  • “F.Towne. delt / Rome No.30”
  • in brown ink
  • artist's mount, verso
  • “No.30 / Palatine Mount, taken in the Campo Vacino [“March [. . .]th 1781” scratched out] from 12 till 4 O Clock / taken in the steps of the Temple of Antonius / Rome Francis Towne delt.”
  • in brown ink
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.1.04).

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. 162 as Palatine Mount
unidentified exhibition, British Museum, 1981
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


Towne’s drawing shows the area of the Forum (then called the Campo Vaccino—literally “field of cows”) below the Domus Tiberiana. Drawings of contemporary figures and incidents of everyday life are rare in Towne’s work, but standard in the works of Giovanni Volpato, Louis Ducros, and others; evidently Towne felt unable to exclude the cattle that gave the scene its name and much of its character. John “Warwick” Smith and John Robert Cozens also drew this scene.1

circa 1794–8

Figure 1.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Thomas Girtin, Rome: Buildings on the Palatine Hill, circa 1794–8

Digital image courtesy of Tate, D36434

by Richard Stephens


  1. 1 T. Girtin and J. M. W. Turner after J. R. Cozens: Campo Vaccino, 1790s? (

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