Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A View Near the Arco Scuro, Looking Towards the Villa Medici, Rome

Artist:
Francis Towne (British, Isleworth, Middlesex 1739–1816 Exeter)
Date:
1785
Medium:
Watercolor over graphite with pen and brown ink, on laid paper
Dimensions:
sheet: 12 13/16 x 18 7/8 in. (32.5 x 48 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Walter and Leonore Annenberg Acquisitions Endowment and Harry G. Sperling Funds, 2010
Accession Number:
2010.439
Not on view
Towne left Exeter, in southwestern England, to visit Italy in 1780-81. After his return, a former student commissioned this Roman view showing a steep road falling away over a hill toward the Villa Medici (now the Académie Française). Towne made a series of sketches along the rural road behind the villa in November 1780 and used one as the basis of the later composition. His interest lay not in famous landmarks but in capturing effects of light falling across overgrown foliage, contrasted with patches of deep shade. Employing an innovative method to create tone, he began with layers of pure color then moved on to pigments mixed with brown or black. This reversal of the traditional order allowed greater subtlety, particularly in the darks.
Signature: lower right in ink: "Francis Towne delt./ 1785"

Inscription: Once inscribed on the original mount (but no longer with the work when acquired by the Museum in 2010): "No. 2. A View near the Arco Scuro, looking towards/ The Villa Medici, at Rome/ Drawn/ by/ Francis Towne/ 1785"
Mrs. John Inglett Fortescue (British, 1755–1815 (lived Buckland House, Devonshire)), commissioned work from the artist in 1785; Mrs. J. Leahy (British, 20th century), sold work at Sotheby’s, London, April 20, 1972, lot 31; Sale, Sotheby's, London, March 12, 1987, lot 88 (by anonymous owner); Sale, Sotheby's, London, July 14, 2010, lot 64 (by anonymous owner); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 4, 2011–June 12, 2011.

Gérald Bauer Le Siècle d'Or de l'Aquarelle Anglaise 1750-1850: guide d'un amateur passionné. Anthèse, 1998, cat. no. 41, p. 45, ill.

Stijn Alsteens, George R. Goldner, Constance C. McPhee, Cora Michael, Samantha Rippner, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2010-2012." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 70, no. 2, Fall 2012, p. 46, ill.



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