View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
The watercolours which Francis Towne made in Italy between 1780 and 1781, and in the Alps on his return to England, are usually regarded as amongst his finest. His practice was to make a pencil skech on the spot, add washes of monochrome or colour, then reinforce the pencil line in pen and ink - as if to emphasise the status of his drawings as sketches. The white of the paper in this watercolour brilliantly suggests the shafts of intense sunlight penentrating through the wooded glades at Albano, which is situated to the south-east of Rome. Towne may have known the watercolours made at Albano a few years earlier by his Devon acquaintance and friend John Downman (no.55).
Gallery label, September 2004