Charles Townley (1737–1805) was born into a wealthy Catholic family and educated abroad. In 1768, after ten years of improving his country estate, Townley set off on the first of three Grand Tours to Italy. He soon became an enthusiastic collector of antiquities.
Returning to England, Townley bought a fine house in Park Street in Westminster and filled it with his collection of classical sculpture. Many grand people visited Park Street to admire his collection of antiquities, which became the talk of London.
This watercolour is one of a pair which show the Townley Collection arranged in his house at 7 Park Street, Westminster.
Townley became a Trustee of the British Museum in 1791, and on his death the Museum acquired his famous collection by an Act of Parliament. This was the Museum’s first major acquisition of classical sculpture.
Find out more about Townley and the British Museum with these objects.