- Museum number
Backwater in a park; view from the wooded bank of a river, in the mid-distance a white fence which crosses the river
Watercolour, over graphite
- Production date
Height: 143 millimetres
Width: 313 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Kitson identifies the location as Costessy Park, near Norwich (pp.68-9). He ascribes the drawing to Cotman's brief stay in the city in early August 1804, after his time with Dawson Turner at Covehithe and before setting out for Croyland and thence to join the Cholmeleys in Yorkshire. The other Cotman watercolour identified as Costessy, the sepia 'Entrance to a park' (Arts Council 1982, cat.55, where dated 1806-7), at Leeds is nearly identical in size (156x316mm). A watercolour version of this subject was lent to Bedford in 1960 from the collection of L.G.Duke.
The technique is close to the Sketching Society subject from Ossian of 1803 (1902-5-14-39). The surface is enlivened by groups of paint blotches whose effect is as much decorative as descriptive. The device of painting foliage in fan-like clusters seems to have been practiced only between this year and c.1806. 'Kirkthorpe, Yorkshire', in Leeds City AG, dated 1804, is closely comparable in style and technique (Cotmania, cat.10). The date of '1798' on this drawing, noted by Reeve in the Norwich 1888 catalogue can be discounted.
In his later drawings and watercolours of the parks of north Yorkshire, Cotman was to develop the theme of visual contrast between man-made forms and the natural growth of trees. The Dropgate, Duncombe Park (1902-5-14-14) is the most dramatic of these.
Holcomb, no.14. Reproduced in 'Cotman' by L. Binyon, Studio Special Number, Summer 1903, C22
References for Cotman Curatorial Comment
Arts Council John Sell Cotman 1782-1842. Arts Council (touring exhibition shown at the V&A, Whitworth AG, Manchester and Bristol City AG), 1982
Cotmania D. Boswell & C. Miller, Cotmania & Mr Kitson, Leeds City Art Galleries 1992
Cholmeley Archive A.M.Holcomb, John Sell Cotman in the Cholmeley Archive. North Yorkshire Record Office Publications No.22, 1980
Early drawings M. Rajnai and M. Allthorpe-Guyton, John Sell Cotman 1782-1842. Early drawings (1798-1812) in Norwich Castle Museum. Norfolk Museums Service, 1979
Hemingway A. Hemingway, ''The English Piranesi'; Cotman's architectural prints'. Walpole Society XLVIII, 1980-2
Holcomb A.M.Holcomb, John Sell Cotman (British Museum Prints and Drawings series). British Museum Publications, 1978
Kitson S.D.Kitson, The Life of John Sell Cotman. Faber & Faber, 1937
Moore A.W.Moore, John Sell Cotman 1782-1842. Norfolk Museums Service, 1982
Romantic landscape D.B.Brown, A. Hemingway & A.Lyles, Romantic landscape; the Norwich School of Painters. Tate Gallery Publishing, 2000
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1888 July, Norwich Art Circle, 9th Exhibition, 'Drawings by John Sell Cotman', no.24
1888 Nov, Burlington Fine Arts Club, no.1
1892 Royal Academy, 'Winter Exhibition of Old Masters', no.24
1936 BM Canaletto to Constable, no no.
2002 Feb-May, BM, 'John Sell Cotman; The Poetry of Nature', no cat
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number