Cozens was a British draftsman and romantic landscape painter. He was taught by his father, Russian born watercolourist, Alexander Cozens and much of his work was executed during and as a result of two long trips to the Continent. Thomas Girtin and J M W Turner looked to his work for inspiration and Constable called him ‘the greatest genius that ever touched landscape‘.
John Robert Cozens (1752-1797), In the Valley near Vietri,
Watercolour; 10 1/8 x 14 5/8 in (25.7 x 37.2cm)
In 1782 Cozens made his second visit to Italy as draughtsman to his patron, the capricious and eccentric antiquarian William Beckford (1766 – 1844). Beckford was famously described as ‘England’s wealthiest son’. Cozens spent much of his time drawing the beautiful coastline between Vietri and Salerno and examples of his finished watercolours based on these sketches, are to be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford, (see K. Sloan, opcit. Figs.163-165). He recorded the coast in constantly changing weathers but in the present watercolour he has chosen to depict a more pastoral landscape in rural Campania. It is based on a sketch in the Whitworth Art Gallery which is dated September 20 1782 and inscribed ‘In the Valley near Vietri’.