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Cox began to break down the dense washes of his earlier style towards a new fragmentation, that was unlike the fine hatching and stippling of watercolour stalwarts like Hunt. Instead he used a looser, highly flexible method of painting in nervous flicks of the brush. This reinterpretation of the techniques of JR Cozens was to become Cox’s unmistakable style. He abandoned the sombre colour of the earlier manner and adopted a fresh, naturalistic palette that set a standard of informal realism matched by none of his contemporaries except Constable. Artists such as Cox explored the physical qualities of air and sky with unprecedented insight.

September 2004