COZENS, John Robert
(b. 1752, London, d. 1797, London)


Painter, draughtsman and printmaker, part of an English family of artists, son of Alexander Cozens, who is best known for drawings of imaginary mountain landscapes.

His son, John Robert Cozens (1752- 97), was also a landscape painter. Most of his work derived from two continental journeys in 1776-79 and 1782-83, during which he visited Italy and Switzerland. On the first he was probably draughtsman to Richard Payne Knight, and on the second he was part of the entourage of William Beckford (a former pupil of his father). In 1793 he became insane and was cared for by Dr Monro. Although his watercolours were based on sketches made on the spot, he by no means restricted himself to topographical exactitude and he often transposed landscape features in the interests of a more poetical composition. But he does not seem ever to have composed wholly from imagination, as his father did.

His narrow but subtly gradated range of subdued colour is intensely evocative of the serene natural effects which appealed so strongly to his poetic melancholy. He was the most talented of the English landscape artists in the Picturesque tradition and his work was admired and copied by Constable (who called him 'the greatest genius that ever touched landscape'), Girtin, and Turner.

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