Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John Sell Cotman

The collection of watercolours by John Sell Cotman is outstanding. Cotman’s oeuvre divides into distinguishable periods, all of which are well represented in the collection. These comprise his early Norwich and Greta period work (several with related sketches), which are regarded as some of the finest in the history of watercolour painting (these include the famous Greta Bridge with which he is usually identified); a series of magical brown wash watercolours from his Normandy visits; numerous of his late so-called ‘paste’ medium watercolours in his blue and yellow phase, and a series of velvet brown monochrome watercolours painted on a final visit to Norfolk just before his death. He painted relatively few oils, which are rarely seen outside Norwich. Those in the museum show the complete range, from early family portraits to his final, unfinished painting. The provenances of the majority can be traced back to the artist’s sale or his family. These collections, together with sketches, drawing copies, etchings, personalia, etc, provide a complete picture of the artist and his working and teaching methods.

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