• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 5860

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours

    11 December 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 385

    Alexander Cozens (Russia 1717-1786 London)

    A rocky landscape

    Price Realised  


    Alexander Cozens (Russia 1717-1786 London)
    A rocky landscape
    with signature 'A Cozens' (lower left, on the original backing sheet)
    brush and brown wash on paper
    10 3/8 x 14 7/8 in. (26.4 x 37.8 cm.)

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    The present drawing, with its broad brush strokes is a variant of one of Cozens's Blot compositions. Cozens's famous 'blot' technique was fully evolved by the 1750s. However he did not explain it in detail until the publication of A New Method of Assisting the Invention in Drawing Original Compositions of Landscape (1786). The idea seems to have originally been developed by him as a teaching aid, to liberate the imagination of the student. He wrote that the blot was a 'production of chance, with a small degree of design'. The true blot was 'an assemblage of accidental shapes', 'forms without lines from which ideas are presented to the mind'. Blotting was done deliberately, the 'rude forms' which result having been made 'at will'.

    Some blots were intended to be worked up through tracing into finished pictures with detail. However some were seen as almost complete in themselves and then Cozens would add a sky and a grey or brown wash over the paper. For a comparable example of a blot variant see A.P. Oppé, Alexander and John Robert Cozens, London, 1952, pl. 23. Other similar drawings are in the Mackworth Praed sketchbook in the Tate Gallery.

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