Francis Towne (1739 or 1740 – 7 July 1816) was a British watercolour landscape painter.
Towne was born in Isleworth 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.
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.
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.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Towne, Francis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Francis Towne.|
- A. P. Oppe, 'Francis Towne, Landscape painter', in The Walpole Society; vol. 8 (1919–1920)
- Bury, Adrian. Francis Towne, Lone star of watercolour painting (London: Charles Skilton Ltd., 1962)
- Stephens, Richard. New material for Towne's biography (The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 138, No. 1121 (Aug., 1996), pp. 500–505).
- Wilcox, Timothy. Francis Towne (Tate, 1997).
- Hargraves, Matthew. Great British Watercolors: From the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale University Press, 2007) p. 30 ff.
- Towne biography (responsesource.com)
- Towne biography and work (Lowell Libson Ltd.)
- Analysis of Towne's watercolour paintings (handprint.com)
- Francis Towne online (ArtCyclopedia)
- Great Works: Ambleside (1786), Francis Towne (The Independent, 8 May 2009)
- The Colosseum from the Caelian Hills (1799 painting)
- Ludlow castle (1777 painting - Christie's)
- Amblesie (watercolour at Bolton Museum and archive service)