View full screen - View 1 of Lot 13. Castel Madama, above the River Aniene, near Tivoli.
13

Francis Towne

Castel Madama, above the River Aniene, near Tivoli

Property from an Important English Collection

Francis Towne

Francis Towne

Castel Madama, above the River Aniene, near Tivoli

Castel Madama, above the River Aniene, near Tivoli

Property from an Important English Collection

Francis Towne

Isleworth, Middlesex 1739 - 1816 London

Castel Madama, above the River Aniene, near Tivoli


Pen and grey ink and watercolour, on laid paper with a fragmentary watermark;

signed, dated and inscribed verso: Castello Madamo / No. 2. / April 22. 1781 / Light coming in from the right hand. / Francis Towne

235 by 324 mm

This watercolour remains is extremely fine condition. The pigments appear close to their original state, with only the most minor evidence of change. There is a soft and minor crease at the lower left hand corner. The work is not laid down.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

James White of Exeter (1744-1825);
John Herman Merivale (1779-1844), Towne’s residuary legatee;
by family descent to Dorothea, Lady Bunbury, née Merivale (1888-1951);
with Agnew's, London;
by whom sold to Charles Richard Nairne Routh (1896-1976), 1946;
with Agnew's, London, by 1949;
Sir William Worsley, 4th Bt (1890-1973);
by family descent until,
sale, London, Christie's, 5 June 2003, lot 38;
where acquired by the present owner  

A. Bury, Francis Towne - Lone Star of Water-colour Painting, London 1962, p. 142;
W.A. Worsley, Early English Water-Colours at Hovingham Hall, 1963, no. 58;
R. Stephens, A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), online, no. FT247
York, City of York Art Gallery, Watercolours of Francis Towne, 1950, no. 18;
Scarborough, Scarborough Art Gallery, English Watercolours from four Yorkshire Houses, 1950, no. 11

Francis Towne is widely considered to be amongst the most original landscape painters of the late eighteenth century and it was in Italy, which he visited in 1780-1781, that he created his finest work.

The present drawing perfectly illustrates Towne’s unique approach, with its lovely combination of neat, crisp pen lines and his fascination with the interplay between deep shadows and the warm Italian sunlight.


The work is dated '22 April' and it is one of three surviving watercolours that he painted on that day which depict Castel Madama, a hillside town which lies beyond the falls of Tivoli, to the east of Rome.1


This drawing has a long and distinguished history. As per the terms of Towne’s will, it - along with the rest of the contents of his studio – was bequeathed first to his friend, James White, an Exeter based lawyer, and then, upon White's death, to John Herman Merivale, the son of Towne’s great friend John Merivale of Barton Place (1752-1831). The drawing then descended in the Merivale family to Dorothea, Lady Bunbury (1888-1951), wife of the prominent civil servant Sir Henry Bunbury. Later in the 20th century it belonged to the author Charles Richard Nairne Routh, and Sir William Worsley of Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire. Both these collectors owned important works by Towne. 


1. Stephens, op. cit., nos. FT246 & 248