Figure in a Classical Landscape
Iolo Aneurin Williams and by descent
Private Collection, England, until 2017
Born in Russia to an English father, then educated in England, Cozens traveled to Italy to study with Claude-Joseph Vernet. Back in London by 1748, Cozens became an influential drawing master and theorist, publishing "An Essay to Faciliate the Inventing of Landskips" (1759). Citing Leonardo da Vinci, who had been inspired by cracks and patterns on old walls, Cozens suggested that artists develop landscapes from ink blots drawn swiftly with a brush dipped in ink. His Essay is illustrated with eight pairs of aquatint blots paired with an etched landscape in outline, the group presented as range of essential types. "Figure in a Classical Landscape" exemplifies a more developed stage, where figures and buildings have been added, and tones modulated. The work may relate to the artist’s unpublished treatise, "Various Species of Composition of Landscape, in Nature" (copies of its etched illustrations survive at the British Museum).