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This is one of two watercolours Towne made of Monte Cavo, the highest mountain in the Alban Hills, to the south of Rome. Unlike many of his other Italian watercolours, in which colour is contained within a tighly controlled line, here Towne paints more freely, in order to capture the subtle play of light on the verdant mountain. The watercolour is inscribed on the reverse, ‘Italy No 53. The Spot where Hannibal is said to have lookd at Rome from. Drawn by Francis Towne on the spot 1781’ .Although Towne’s watercolour is based upon direct observation, his choice of motif is clearly determined by his knowledge of the classical past.

April 2007