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John Robert Cozens - British Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - John Robert Cozens (1752 - 1797)

Son of the drawing master at Eton and watercolorist, John Robert Cozens studied under his father and developed a unique watercolor technique that was both impressionistic and atmospheric. Cozens traveled across Italy from 1776 to 1782 to gather source material for his landscapes and historical paintings. Deemed ‘the greatest genius that ever touched landscape’ by Constable, Cozens’s work often had a somber and depressed feel to it. This was most likely a result of his severe depression, the illness that inevitably caused his admittance to an insane asylum at the end of his life. Cozens executed watercolors in curious atmospherical effects and illusions which had some influence on Thomas Girtin and J.M.W. Turner. Indeed, his work is full of poetry. There is a solemn grandeur in his Alpine views and a sense of vastness, a tender tranquillity and a kind of mystery in most of his paintings, leaving parts in his pictures for the imagination of the spectator to dwell on and search into. John Constable called him "the greatest genius that ever touched landscape." On the other hand, Cozens never departed from his primitive, almost rudimentary, manner of painting, which causes several of his works to look very like colored engravings.

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