John Robert Cozens

The Cloud


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

Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 350 x 390 mm
Purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund 1996

Display caption

This watercolour is unusual for John Robert Cozens in being almost purely a sky study, divorced from any identifiable topographical context. Paul Oppé remarked on its similarity with some of the coast scenes painted by his father, Alexander Cozens, and also the latter's famous drawing of 'The Cloud' (no.17). However, John Robert's approach to his subject is subtler and less schematic than his father's, and his skies in general are more concerned with atmosphere, space and light. Skies always play an integral part in the design of John Robert Cozens's watercolours, contributing to their mood. They have been described as, at one moment, 'infinitely luminous', and at another 'charged with menace and oppressive cloud'.

Gallery label, September 2004