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John Robert Cozens, 1752–1797, British

London from Greenwich Hill

ca. 1791
Watercolor and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 14 7/8 x 21 1/8 inches (37.8 x 53.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
buildings | deer | domes | hills | landscape | river | trees
Associated Places:
England | London | Thames
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IIIF Manifest:

In the last decades of the eighteenth century, the vogue for the Picturesque reshaped the conventions of topographical drawing; new aesthetic and sensory concerns were grafted onto its longstanding informational role. The straightforward presentation of antiquaries by the Bucks was replaced in the watercolors of Thomas Hearne, Michael Rooker, and Edward Dayes by images carefully calculated to enhance sublime or picturesque qualities of the site. In place of the distant "prospects" that were a Buck specialty, these artists took the viewer right into the fashionable precincts of the city or created far-off atmospheric vistas that provided a sense of the grandeur or the metropolis without enumerating its landmarks.
The view of London from Greenwich Hill has been popular with artists since the seventeenth century. By choosing a vantage point in which the domes of Christopher Wren's Royal Naval Hospital are visible, but the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House are not, John Robert Cozens created a composition which downplays topographical particularity in favor of an evocative association of the view with that of Rome and, in his coloring and atmosphere, imbues the view with the same melancholy grandeur that characterizes his Roman scenes. This, like The Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo (cats. 103-4), was one of Cozen's most admired compositions, as indicated by its being known in six versions, one of which (private collection) is signed and dated 1791.

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. 166 cat. no. 142

Lowell Libson Ltd : British Art : 2016, Lowell Libson Ltd., 2016, p. 30, Dealer Cat Lowell Libson 2016 (YCBA)

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