Alexander Cozens A Blot: Landscape Composition c.1770–80

Artwork details

Artist
Alexander Cozens 1717–1786
Title
A Blot: Landscape Composition
Date c.1770–80
Medium Watercolour and graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 162 x 207 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
Reference
T08114
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

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 who, he felt, spent too much time in copying the works of others. 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'.

September 2004