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John Robert Cozens, 1752–1797, British

The Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo

between 1783 and 1785
Watercolor and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 17 x 24 3/8 inches (43.2 x 61.9 cm)

Watermark: J. Whatman.

Signed in pen and black ink lower left: "Cozens"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
castles | goats | Grand Tour | hills | landscape | shepherds | trees
Associated Places:
Albano, Lago | Campagna | Castel Gandolfo | Italy
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IIIF Manifest:

John Robert Cozens returned from his first visit to Italy in the spring of 1779. Three year later made a second Italian tour, this time in the company of his father's pupil, patron, and friend William Beckford. Back in London in 1783, Cozens created finished watercolors for Beckford and other collectors based on sketches from his recent tour but also returning to the more striking and popular of his drawings for the earlier Italian visit. As did many other landscape painters ad draftsmen of the period (one thinks of Richard Wilson with his many repetitions of his paintings of Italy), Cozens produced numerous versions of his more popular compositions. The Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo was certainly one of the most popular, known in at least ten variants. The differences in tone and handling of the two versions in the Yale Center for British Art suggest that these watercolors date from different periods in the artist's life and stylistic evolution. Andrew Wilton has suggested that the darker, richer, more densely worked version (cat. 103) can be associated with Cozen's first visit to Italy, while the lighter, freer handling of cat. 104 reflects the artist's manner of working in the years following his second Italian trip. In both versions the Alban hills are given full weight and solidity by Cozen's technique of building form through the massing of delicate touches of subdued color. While Cozens's technical achievement was considerable and influential, it was also at the service of a sensibility that the great Romantic landscape painter John Constable described as "all poetry." The sense of light and atmosphere, as well as mystery and melancholy, that Cozens created in watercolors such as there se him apart from other contemporaries working in Italy, such as William Pars (cat. 100) or John "Warwick" Smith (cat. 74), and provided an important model for a younger generation of watercolorist, which included Thomas Girtin (cat. 143) and J.M.W. Turner (cat. 144).

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. 124 cat. no. 103

Timothy J. Barringer, Picturesque and sublime : Thomas Cole's trans-Atlantic inheritance, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2018, p. 109, fig. 68, NJ18 .C67 B37 2018 (LC) YCBA

Theresa Fairbanks-Harris, Papermaking and the art of watercolor in eighteenth-century Britain, Paul Sandby and the Whatman Paper Mill , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2006, pp. 12, 13, figs. 8 and 9, NJ18.Sa56 A15 V5 2006 (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, pp. 122, 123, fig. 78, N9135 .E54 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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