The Source of the Arveiron, with Mont Blanc in the Background thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS , Case R, Shelf 81, Box R

The Source of the Arveiron, with Mont Blanc in the Background

Watercolour
1781 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Francis Towne (1739-1816) began his artistic career as a coach painter. He later moved on to landscape painting. His watercolours are very simple but striking. He painted this watercolour in Switzerland, where he stayed on his return to England after a trip to Italy.
read What is watercolour? From the moment the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) opened its doors to the public in 1857, watercolours were at the heart of the new museum's ambitions for its fine art collections. It was the artist Richard Redgrave, the government's Inspector-General for Art, who championed the fo...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Watercolour, pen and ink
Brief Description
Watercolour entitled 'The Source of the Arveiron, with Mont Blanc in the Background' by Francis Towne. British School, 1781.
Physical Description
View of the source of the River Arveyron in the Chamonix valley. In the background is the Aiguille de Bochard in the Mont Blanc range, and descending from the right and into the foreground is the southern end of the Mer de Glace glacier.



This drawing belongs to the remarkable series of studies of Alpine scenery. Towne banishes all 'picturesque' elements such as wayside shrines and bridges and his vision is of the greatest severity; his presentation austere. He achieves the expression of his fascination with the geometry of nature by the most economical of means, reducing everything to the simplest of terms and achieving a monumentality by his skilful arrangement of light and interreacting planes.
Dimensions
  • Height: 42.5cm
  • Width: 31.1cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
(Signed and dated 1781.)
Object history
Bought from Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd, 43 Old Bond Street, London.
Subject depicted
Places Depicted
Summary
Francis Towne (1739-1816) began his artistic career as a coach painter. He later moved on to landscape painting. His watercolours are very simple but striking. He painted this watercolour in Switzerland, where he stayed on his return to England after a trip to Italy.
Bibliographic References
  • Hoozee, Robert (ed.), British Vision. Observation and Imagination in British Art 1750-1950, Brussels : Mercatorfonds ; Ghent : Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 2007124
  • 100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum.London: V&A, 1985, p.78
  • P. 218Carolina Brook and Valter Curzi, eds., Hogarth, Reynolds, Turner : British painting and the rise of modernity Milan : Skira, c2014. ISBN: 9788857222714.
  • Coombs, Katherine British watercolours : 1750-1950 . London: V&A Publications, 2012p.122, pl.115
Collection
Accession Number
P.20-1921

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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