Francis Towne

The Source of the Rhine


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Francis Towne 1739–1816
Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 154 × 209 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

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This work dates from the period 1780-81, which Towne spent sketching in Italy before returning home via the Alps. Towne's method of working was to make a pencil outline on the spot, and later to go over it in ink, adding washes while the 'natural aspect was still fresh in his memory'. The ink lines have 'bled' slightly and were possibly still fresh when the wash was applied over them. The shadows are indicated with Indian ink applied in various dilutions once the washes had dried, in order to create sharply defined shadows.

Gallery label, August 2004

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