Towne was one of a pioneering generation of watercolour artists who endowed the medium, traditionally associated with rather humble, descriptive artistic work, with a new sense of ambition. In 1780–81 he travelled in Italy, sketching the landscape. On his return he received commissions for watercolours based on these observational sketches, of which this one. The sense of abstract design and the clarity of his watercolours were highly innovative, but Towne remained based in Devon working as a drawing teacher. His work was rediscovered and promoted by the collector AP Oppé in the 1930s.
Gallery label, February 2016