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John Robert Cozens, 1752–1797, British

Galleria di Sopra, Albano

ca. 1778
Watercolor and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper, mounted on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Mount: 18 3/8 x 24 1/2 inches (46.7 x 62.2 cm) and Sheet: 14 3/8 x 20 7/8 inches (36.5 x 53 cm)

Signed in pen and black ink lower left: "A.C."; on mount in pen and brown ink lower left: "Cousins."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
clouds | goats | Grand Tour | grove | landscape | shepherd | study (visual work) | trees
Associated Places:
Albano, Lago | Campagna | Europe | Italy
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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When in Rome, Cozens bought himself an ass to enable him to tour the city's environs more easily. Lake Albano was a short ride from Rome and an essential stopping place for any traveler visiting Italy. Perched above this volcanic lake stands Castel Gandolfo, where Pope Urban VIII (1568–1644) built a small palace as an occasional retreat from Rome. To facilitate transport between the palace and the neighboring town of Albano, Urban began the Galleria di Sopra, a winding, tree-lined road that offered occasional views of Lake Albano, on one side, and of the Roman Campagna, on the other. In 1778 the 4th Earl of Bristol thought “a more romantic spot cannot be seen” and marveled at the “oldest and most venerable oaks, as well as chestnuts, that I ever saw” lining the road (Oppé, 1952, p. 135). Sketches Cozens made on the spot provided the basis of a number of drawings of the Galleria di Sopra, most being variants of what was essentially the same design. This unfinished drawing is, however, unique, both in focusing on the road itself, rather than the prospect of the Campagna, and in showing an approaching storm. Here a pair of goatherds hurries along the road to escape the oncoming tempest seen blowing in from the right, the trees already buffeted by advance winds. The emphasis on human vulnerability in the face of the forces of nature suggests a depth of meaning that puts this work beyond mere topography and reveals a debt to his father's theory of the intellectual potential of landscape painting. The lack of finish also displays Cozens’s innovative handling of watercolor: in some areas he uses gray underwashes, whereas in others he applies pure pigment in layers directly onto the white paper, giving the green leaves of the right-hand tree a jewel-like intensity of color.

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 270, no. 60, pl. 60, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

A. P. (Adopf Paul) Oppe, Alexander & John Robert Cozens, With a reprint of Alexander Cozens' A new method of assisting the invention in drawing original compositions of landscape , A. and C. Black, London, 1952, p. 135, NJ18 C83 O66 (YCBA)

Maria Delores Sanchez-Jauregul, The English prize, the capture of the Westmorland, an episode of the grand tour , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2012, p. 189, fig. 121, N9135 .E54 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Simon Schama, The Yale Centre for British Art, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, Issue no. 3923, May 20, 1977, p. 620, Film S748 (SML) Also avaiable online in TLS Historical Archive (ORBIS)

Kim Sloan, Alexander and John Robert Cozens, the poetry of landscape , Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1986, pp. 131, 132, pl. 145, NJ18 C83 S56 (YCBA)

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