For this post, we will have a look at the traditional art of an independent and usually reclusive artist named Francis Towne.
In 1780-81, Towne went on the dangerous journey to the heart of the Ancient Empire of Rome and in doing so created some of the most beautiful watercolour paintings I’ve ever seen; using his incredible aptitude with a brush he brought out the elegance of the ruins of the old Empire and romanticized them poetically.
This is a painting that I done in watercolour in March, I created this using a photograph that I previously took, as a reference to work from.
The original statue is to be found on the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele bridge in Rome, leading one into the Vatican city, I’ve tried researching who designed the sculpture and who made it but without many results¹. The bridge itself was constructed to the designs of Ennio de Rossi.
Overall this painting is an interpretation of the battle between dark and light, good and evil, I have attempted to describe this battle in a few different ways within the piece.
To begin with is the obvious, a silhouetted angel figure, a figure that is instantly associated with light and love, is a dark black silhouette, no light emanating from the angel whatsoever, but it is illuminated by the lighter background behind it, almost as though it is being pushed forward by the light, and away from the light.
Upon further examination of the light behind the angel, it becomes evident that it is actually a storm cloud, battling it out with the much lighter and more welcoming pristine blue sky, whether the cloud is building up, ready to engulf the world of light or whether it is dissipating is open to the interpretation of the viewer.
That brings us back to the angel itself, so at first a vision of darkness, it’s now questionable whether the angel is fighting off the darkness that’s surrounding it and seemingly fighting a losing battle; being consumed by the darkness from within and becoming another fallen angel; or is the angel sacrificing itself, consuming the darkness to bring the light to the world?
¹If anyone reading this knows who the artist was that designed and sculpted these statues I am dying to know so I would be thrilled if you could enlighten me, I’m pretty certain that they’re not works of Bernini, although there’s tons of his designs dotted around the entire city; both Rome and the Vatican.