John Robert Cozens

The Gulf of Salerno


John Robert Cozens 1752–1797
Watercolour on paper
Support: 371 × 537 mm
Presented by the Art Fund (Herbert Powell Bequest) 1967

Display caption

During his visit to Italy with William Beckford in 1782, Cozens spent some time sketching on the south-west coast in and around Naples. Among the most spectacular of the finished watercolours to have emerged from this time is this view of the gulf of Salerno. Typically, Cozens employs a limited palette of muted grey-green and blue, shot through by the shaft of sunlight which breaks through the clouded sky. It is in such watercolours that Cozens demonstrated his desire to express the ‘sublime’; an aesthetic movement of this time which aimed to produce an emotional response to the power and grandeur of nature.

Gallery label, April 2007

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Catalogue entry

John Robert Cozens 1752–1797

T00984 The Gulf of Salerno c. 1790

Inscribed ‘John Cozens’ in border, b.l.
Watercolour, 14¿ x 21¿ (37.2 x 53.7).
Presented by the National Art-Collections Fund from the Herbert Powell Bequest 1967.
Coll: Herbert Powell by 1922; entrusted by him to the N.A.-C.F. 1929.
Exh: B.F.A.C., 1922–3 (44); see also under Atkins T00964.
Lit: C F Bell and T Girtin, ‘The Drawings and Sketches of John Robert Cozens’, in Walpole Society, XXIII, 1935, p. 60, no. 270 III, repr. pl. XXIIa.

Based on the drawing in the Beckford sketchbook, iii, 11, which is dated ‘September 23’ 1782. Another watercolour version, dated 1790, is in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.

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