- Museum number
Lake Nemi; viewed from the top of a ridge which curves around the lake to the right, a town perched on the edge of the ridge on the further side of the lake, a mountain in the distance at r, at left the sea
Watercolour, over graphite
- Production date
Height: 360 millimetres
Width: 522 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- See 'Walpole Society', Vol XXIII, 1934-5, No 141 (III).
The following text is from L.Stainton, British Landscape Watercolours, 1600-1860 (1985):
Cozens, who had accompanied Payne Knight to Italy in the autumn of 1776 (see 1900,0411.9) was in Rome by 27 November, when Thomas Jones records meeting him with other 'Old London Acquaintances', at the English Coffee House. Dated inscriptions on drawings in a volume in the Soane Museum show that he was sketching in the Alban Hills in April 1777, and there are glimpses of him in Jones's memoirs. On 1 June 1778 Jones records "many very agreeable excursions to a Villa near S'a Agnese without the Porta Pia", belonging to a Signor Martinelli with whom "Little Couzins the landscape painter lodged in Rome". On 8 April 1779 he recorded Cozens's departure for England.
The Alban Hills, extinct volcanoes the craters of which had become lakes, had attracted artists since the seventeenth century, and from the 1750s onwards the area became a favourite with French and British artists in Rome. Cozens's views of Lake Albano and Lake Nemi were his most popular and frequently repeated subjects; in some cases there are as many as eight or nine slightly different versions of the same composition. They are not easy to date, for Cozens's work is not susceptible to straightforward stylistic analysis. In some ways, his art is more closely dependent on the then received conventions of picture-making than, say, Thomas Jones's oil sketches or Francis Towne's watercolours. Cozens was deeply influenced by the work of Claude, not only in his compositions - the repoussoir motifs which he often employs and a similar treatment of receding, misty distances - but also, to some extent, in mood. The origin of the uniquely melancholy beauty of Cozens's art may be seen in the elegiac quality of many of Claude's paintings. Cozens's achievement lay in the transformation of such classical prototypes into genuinely romantic works.
Gg,3.395 was bequeathed to the British Museum, two years after the artist's death, by the Rev. Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode, who had been one of the subscribers to a fund for Cozens's support during his last years of insanity. Cozens died in the care of Dr Thomas Monro, in whose collection the young Girtin and Turner studied his work.
The following label text by Richard Stephens is from 2016, Jan-Aug, exh. BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue):
When Victorian historians judged 18th century landscape watercolours, they contrasted what they saw as the limited palettes and unfeeling, factual compositions of topographical artists like Rooker with the power and romance of Turner and his generation. Cozens was treated as a figure who bridged the two eras; an 18th century artist whose work was nevertheless, in the words of the painter John Constable, 'all poetry.'
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1922-3 London Burlington Fine Arts Club, 'John Robert Cozens', no. 61; Bell and Girtin 145(i);
1959 British Museum
1960 British Museum
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours, no.59
1990 April-Aug, BM, Treasures of P&D (no cat.)
2016 Jan-Aug, BM, 'Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne's watercolours of Rome' (no catalogue)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick; by descent to Lord Northwick, his sale, Sotheby's 3 November 1920 (348), bt Agnew's for Lloyd, £205 plus 5% commission £10 5s. (stock 9824).
UNDER THE TERMS OF THE BEQUEST, NONE OF THE PRINTS OR DRAWINGS BEQUEATHED BY R. W. LLOYD MAY BE LENT OUTSIDE THE BRITISH MUSEUM (Registration Numbers 1958,0712.318 to 3149).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number