This study is almost certainly related to a treatise Cozens was working on in the late 1760s and early 1770s, 'The Various Species of Composition of Landscape, in Nature'. This treatise was apparently never published in full, but it seems to have been a very complicated system indeed. The landscapes, made up from a selection of sixteen 'compositions', fourteen 'objects' and twenty-seven 'circumstances', were intended to arouse specific emotions on those who viewed them, and to have a positive moral effect. 'The Cloud' probably corresponds with circumstance no.7, 'setting-sun'. 'In no other drawing', wrote Paul Oppé, 'does Cozens reach to quite this degree of controlled but burning emotion'.
Gallery label, September 2004
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