Alexander Cozens

A Blot: Tigers

c.1770–80

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Alexander Cozens 1717–1786
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 197 x 280 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996
Reference
T08116

Display caption

Cozens described his 'blot' technique as a way of making

varied spots and shapes with ink on paper, producing accidental forms without lines, from which ideas are entered to the mind. To sketch is to delineate lines; blotting suggests them.

Here Cozens has initially laid down a broad grey wash. He then used his imagination whilst looking at the outline shapes; these suggested animals to him, which he brought to life by drawing broad brush lines in black ink over the grey wash. Most of Cozens's 'blots' were turned into landscapes; animal drawings such as this are rare.

Gallery label, August 2004