• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5979

    Old Master, 19th Century and British Drawings and Watercolours

    9 July 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 648

    John Sell Cotman (Norwich 1782-1842 London)

    View of Rouen

    Price Realised  


    John Sell Cotman (Norwich 1782-1842 London)
    View of Rouen
    pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour
    9 3/8 x 7¼ in. (23.8 x 18.5 cm.)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Financed by his patron Dawson Turner (1775-1858), Cotman made three journeys to Normandy in 1817, 1818 and 1820. During these trips Cotman visited Rouen several times. On his first stay he spent ten full days in the town. His second visit from 15 June to 15 July 1818 was made in the company of Mrs. Turner and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Anne. Elizabeth Turner records in her diary their descent into Rouen: 'we proceeded straight to Rouen which we entered by a road near Mount Ste. Catherine. The whole view of the town and river opened suddenly on us in the finest manner possible and Mr. Cotman immediately determined on making drawings of it from that spot' (A. Moore, John Sell Cotman, Norfolk, 1982, p. 78).

    The drawings executed during Cotman's time in France are characterised by precise lines, austere pattern and flat washes of cool colour. Mallalieu described these paintings as 'the finest series of architectural wash drawings ever done by an English artist' (H. Mallalieu, The Dictionary of British Watercolours, Suffolk, 2002, p. 180).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 18 March 1980, lot 216.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this drawing was included in an album, formed in 1826, under the superintendence of the late Mr. George Fennel Robson (1788-1833), the landscape painter. The album was sold in these Rooms, from the estate of Mrs. Haldimand, on 21 June 1861, lot 80 as `the celebrated album of drawings by all the most celebrated painters living in the year 1826' and was purchased by Agnew's. The drawings were later removed from the albums, framed and exhibited at Vokins' Gallery in Great Portland Street in 1883. It was at about this time that the collection was re-purchased by the Haldimand family. The Haldimand Collection, including the Cotman was offered at Christie's, once again on 18 March, 1980, when it was purchased by the family of the present owner.

    The provenance should read as follows:
    Mrs. Haldimand, deceased; Christie's, London, 21 June 1861, lot 80.
    Vokins Gallery, Great Portland Street, London, where re-purchased by the Haldimand family; Christie's, London, 18 March 1980, lot 216 (£3,200 to the present owner).


    London, Vokins Gallery, 1883, number untraced.