Eton Collections has a beautiful watercolour by John Robert Cozens (1752-1797). Cozens is particularly famous for his magnificent nature scenes revealing dramatic mountain-scapes and landscapes.
In this painting (a watercolour with traces of pencil and Indian ink dated 1778), the perspective is of two immense craggy cliffs which almost touch each other, leaving the space for a river to carve its path around them. The tiny group of figures pulling a boat to shore in the foreground, give you a strong sense of the size and immensity of this dramatic nature. With his light but limited palette of colours and his portrayal of nature as “sublime” he is very much a painter of the Romantic movement.
Cozens’ artistic education stems from his father, Alexander who, as an artist himself, was also a drawing master to Etonians in town, having rented a space above a local barbers shop, from which to teach. Depicting mainly landscapes of Switzerland and Italy, J. R. Cozens brought to the eyes of his public the landscapes that some might have discovered on their “Grand Tour”.
He would take many sketches on his European travels which he then worked up as larger pieces later, in his studio in Rome. Cozens’ art was a great influence on Turner. Constable called him: “The greatest genius that ever touched landscape”. This work was generously bequeathed to the Eton Collections in 1973 by OE Alan Pilkington.
By Alexis Von Roenne (BJH)