A View near the Arco Scuro, looking towards the Villa Medici, at Rome

Francis Towne British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 690

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.

A View near the Arco Scuro, looking towards the Villa Medici, at Rome, Francis Towne (British, Isleworth, Middlesex 1739–1816 Exeter), Watercolor over graphite with pen and brown ink

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