Francis Towne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Tarpeian Rock, Rome, 1780
On The Dart

Francis Towne (1739 or 1740 – 7 July 1816) was a British watercolour landscape painter.


Towne was born in Isleworth[1] in Middlesex the son of a corn chandler. In 1752 he was apprenticed to a leading coach painter in London, Thomas Brookshead. In 1759 he won a design prize from the Society of Arts, and studied for a while at St Martin’s Lane Academy; according to his pupil John White Abbott many years later, around this time he also studied under the court portraitist John Shackleton.

In 1763 Towne was employed by a coach painter called Thomas Watson in Long Acre, and went to Exeter on business. He had already begun painting in oils and also taught drawing, and now he began to accept commissions from wealthy families in Devon.

After a tour of north Wales in 1777, undertaken with his friend, the Exeter lawyer James White (1744–1825), he began to specialize in water-colours.

In 1780 he travelled to Rome, Italy spending a month in Naples in 1781 with Thomas Jones.

On his return to Devon, he was asked by Sir Thomas and Lady Acland of Killerton to paint some views in Devon and North Wales, and in 1786 he went on a painting tour of the Lake District.

In the latter part of his career he was based in London.


  1. ^ , where he was baptised in August 1739. There is some confusion here as some sources place his birth in Exeter in Devon.

Towne's baptism in Isleworth is now firmly established, in a 1996 article in the Burlington Magazine (vol 138, pp.500-5). The records of the Painter Stainers Company, where Towne enrolled as an apprentice, also state that Towne's father was from Isleworth. Before this, people assumed that Towne was from Devon, as he lived and worked there for so long.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]