Francis Towne

Le Rêve


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Francis Towne 1739–1816
Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 156 x 212 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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Towne travelled back from Italy to England in the summer of 1781 with John 'Warwick' Smith. The two artists chose an easterly route over the Alps, which took them past the Italian Lakes before entering Switzerland via the Splügen Pass. Some of the finest watercolours of Towne's entire career were made on this journey. These two both show views near the Head of Lake Como. Both include a strip of water in the foreground, which may indicate that they were made from a boat. One of them is inscribed on the back by Towne himself 'Le Rêve' (the dream), though the significance of this is not known. Towne is today celebrated for his use of bold, simplified forms and for his austere sense of design. However, he failed to achieve serious recognition during his own lifetime.

Gallery label, August 2004


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