Towne's realistic, yet almost graphic, landscape painting depicts a waterfall in the Lake District with intensity and drama. Wind blown trees lean over the fast flowing water while two barely discernible figures provide a sense of scale.
Waterfall near Ambleside
38 x 26.5 cm
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Date of work
Original: Pen and ink and watercolour on paper, 38 x 26.5 cm ® Tate, London
Francis Towne was an English painter who began to paint in oils at the age of 14. In the late 1750s he returned to Exeter and set up as a drawing-master where he became firmly established as a painter of landscapes and country houses. In autumn 1780 Towne travelled to Rome via Geneva; the clarity of his watercolour style was especially suited to depictions of Roman architecture. He moved to London, marrying Jeannette Hilligsberg, a dancer, but she died the following year. In 1809 he toured Devon and Cornwall. Towne created a powerful and idiosyncratic style but, as a Devon-based painter, had little influence on the London artistic mainstream and was largely forgotten until the 1930s, when his spare, geometric work was hailed as revolutionary for its time.