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Richard Cosway, 1742–1821
Venus and Mars
ca. 1790
Materials & Techniques:
Brown ink on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 8 7/8 x 7 1/8 inches (22.5 x 18.1 cm), Mount: 12 x 10 1/4 inches (30.5 x 26 cm)

Inscribed in brown ink, on mount, lower right: "Original Drawing by | Richard Cosway R.A."; inscribed in graphite, on verso of mount, upper right: "< 37 > | < 7L7+ >"; in graphite lower right: "< PA ... 4 ...721 | LCD >"; in graphite lower right: "2294"; in graphite lower right: "< 327 >"

Collector's mark, verso: Paul Mellon

Signed in brown ink, on mount, lower right: "Original Drawing by | Richard Cosway R.A."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
armor | arrows | beds (furniture) | blankets (coverings) | bows (weapons) | cherubs | children | draperies | lovers | men | mythology | nocks | nudes | pillows | putti | quivers | religious and mythological subject | shields (armor) | swords | wings (costume accessories) | women
Associated People:
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
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IIIF Manifest:

The elegance apparent in Richard Cosway's portrait drawings and miniatures (cats. 19-20) pervaded every aspect of his art and life. While many eighteenth-century artists assembled useful working collections of prints, drawings, and paintings by their contemporaries and earlier masters, Cosway was a virtuoso collector. His acquisition of paintings, drawings, and prints along with furniture and objects d'art, was part and parcel of his fashionable and extravagant lifestyle. But if Cosway's collecting could be flamboyant and at times eccentric, he was also a serious connoisseur, and anartist sensitive to the lessons he could glean from the old masters. After seeing Cosway's collections of drawings in 1811, Thomas Lawrence had to revise his opinion of Cosway as an artist, impressed as he was by "the knowledge - the familiar acquaintance with , study; and often happy appropriation and even liberal imitation of the Old Masters, the fix'd landmark of Art, of this little Being which we have been accustom'd never to think of speak of but with contempt." Lawrence, himself a serious collector of drawings, bought a number of sheets from the auction of Cosway's prints and drawings in 1822. As Lawrence comment suggests, Cosway's collection of Old Master drawings informed his own drawings of subjects taken from the time-honored themes of classical literature and the Bible. In these drawings the grace and finesse of Cosway's draftsmanship is allied to as sensuousness that in subjects such as Venus and Mars becomes elegant eroticism.

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 52 cat. no. 40

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Richard and Maria Cosway - Regency Artists of Taste and Fashion (National Portrait Gallery, 1996-11-17 - 1997-02-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Richard and Maria Cosway - Regency Artists of Taste and Fashion (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1995-08-11 - 1995-10-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Stephen Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway: regency artists of taste and fashion, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, p. 123, no. 105, NJ18 C7985 L56 1995 (LC)+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 52, no. 40, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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