(Birmingham 1783 - Harborne 1859)
A Coastal Landscape in North Wales, with an Approaching Squall
A sketch of fishing boats moored by Conway Castle drawn in pencil on the verso.
276 x 380 mm. (10 7/8 x 14 7/8 in.)
This watercolour is likely to have been executed on one of the artist’s yearly visits to North Wales. Cox made his first visit there in 1818, and became a regular visitor to the area, eventually contributing illustrations to Thomas Roscoe’s Wanderings and Excursions in North Wales, published in 1836. From the mid 1840’s onwards Cox spent part of almost every year in North Wales, based in Betws-y-Coed in the Conway valley. The pencil sketch of Conway Castle and Thomas Telford’s Conwy Suspension Bridge, completed in 1826, on the verso of this watercolour would suggest that the recto may depict a view on the Welsh coast, or perhaps on the estuary of the river Conway.
Among the finest watercolourists in England in the first half of the 19th century, David Cox, Senior, was trained as a theatrical scene painter in Birmingham before settling in London in 1804 and establishing himself as a watercolourist. He trained with John Varley, and exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1805. In 1813 he was admitted to the Society of Painters in Water Colours, where he exhibited every year but two for the remainder of his long and productive career. In 1826 Cox made the first of several trips to the Continent, visiting sites in Belgium and Holland, but most of his sketching trips were closer to home. Cox was a celebrated teacher and drawing master, and published several technical manuals for amateur watercolourists, including Progressive Lessons on Landscape and Young Artists Companion. A stroke suffered in 1853 left him temporarily paralyzed; although he recovered, his eyesight began to suffer and by 1857 had begun to fail completely. Two large posthumous retrospective exhibitions of Cox’s work, each numbering several hundred works, were held in Liverpool in 1875 and Birmingham in 1890.