The present drawing can be dated to the 1760s, when Cozens was experimenting with history compositions and seeking acceptance within the exhibiting societies. Distinct from his 'blot' drawings of this period, with its tightly marked leaves and spirited central figures, the present sheet relates to several others on a larger scale. One, now at the British Museum (1983,0521.1) is Atlas size, and depicts a fisherman seated on a riverbank underneath a tree which strongly recalls those in the present drawing. That drawing is more grey in tone, and it appears that the paper has not been prepared in the same way as it has here. Another, dated by Kim Sloan to 1766, depicts four men digging on Blackheath with a view of Greenwich and London beyond. A further group of six related drawings appeared on the London art market in 1990. Their subject matter seems to relate to Cozens's ideas on morality and landscape and fit with the system of sixteen landscapes which he devised to provoke appropriate responses from the viewer, perhaps taking this set of drawings to its natural conclusion.
We are grateful to Kim Sloan for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.