Isleworth, Middlesex 1739 - 1816 London
A view of a Hermitage at Rocca di Papa, near Lake Albano, Italy
Pen and grey ink and wash;
signed and dated, verso: A View of a Hermitage & Rocca del Papa / Francis Towne / 1781
249 by 375 mm (drawing)
422 by 45 mm (frame)
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This sheet is in generally good condition. There is evidence of some rubbing on the extreme left. There is some minor surface dirt, and some staining to the paper. Towne's inscription which is on the verso, can be seen on the recto and there is a circular stain visible just to the left of the inscription, within the sky.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Please note, Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
by whom sold to Agnew's, May 1940,
with Agnew's, London,
by whom sold, June 1940, to Professor John Malins (1915-1992),
by direct descent to the present owner
R. Stephens, Francis Towne – Online Catalogue, no. FT280
Francis Towne - one of the most original landscape painters of the late eighteenth century - created this drawing in June 1781 while on his year-long Grand Tour of Italy. Although he visited Naples, he based himself in Rome and it was from here that he carried out a comprehensive investigation not only of the ancient city, but also of the surrounding Campagna.
In the present work, he focuses on a quiet pathway at Rocca di Papa, which lies to the south of Rome within the Alban Hills. The subject is intimate and personal by nature but with the composition's combination of strange rock formations, gnarled trees, and the extreme contrasts between light and shade, it is easy to see why it appealed to this radical artist, who was once described by a contemporary as 'the strangest genius' he had ever seen.1
1. B. Ford, (ed.) J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, New Haven 1997, p. 946