François Louis Thomas Francia (1772–1839) was born in Calais but moved to London in around 1790. In the roughly twenty-five years he spent in Britain, he played a prominent role in the development of the art of painting in watercolours, knowledge of which he was able to pass on to a new generation of artists following his return to France after 1817. Francia appears to have met Girtin at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) and he was greatly influenced by the younger artist’s work, so much so that a number of his watercolours, such as Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, near Southampton (TG1237), have been wrongly attributed to Girtin in the past. Francia assimilated Girtin’s style through copying his work (see TG1889 figure 1) and at least one of his sketches (see TG1779 figure 1) was engraved as a soft-ground etching and published in his Studies of Landscapes … from the Originals (Francia, 1810). Francia took a prominent role in the foundation of the Sketching Society, originally known as ‘the Brothers’, which met from May 1799. The society’s Minute Book records his attendance at nine of the meetings in company with Girtin, Paul Sandby Munn (1773–1845), Robert Ker Porter (1777–1842), George Samuel (active 1785–1823) and three amateur artists, Thomas Richard Underwood (1772–1836), John Charles Denham (1777–1867) and Thomas George Worthington (unknown dates) (Sketching Society, Minute Book). Details of the Society’s Laws, the names of attendees, and excerpts from the selected poems are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1799 – Item 5). Francia joined Porter and Underwood at Beddgelert during their tour of North Wales in the summer of 1799, during a break in the meetings of the Society. The itinerary given by Porter in his journal suggests that both their route and the nature of their sketching activities were patterned on the example of Girtin’s 1798 excursion to Wales (Porter, 1799).

(?) 1804

Bursledon Ferry on the River Hamble, near Southampton



The Watermill above the Bridge at Charenton, near Paris


(?) 1802

A Shady Road Leading to Cottages


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