DAVID COX OWS RWS (1783-1859)
Mother and Child on a Beach (England, c.1840)
Oil on board
Description / Expertise
Born the son of a blacksmith in a poor suburb of Birmingham, David Cox rose to be president of the Association of Artists in Watercolours where he exhibited his works, having published in 1814, A Treatise on Landscape Painting and Effect in Watercolours. He became one of the great figures of the romantic age and one of the most prominent figures in British watercolour painting. During the decade of the 1840’s, which opened with the marriage of Victoria and Albert, David Cox first began to study the art of oil painting seriously. He took lessons from the Bristol landscape painter William James Muller and by the end of the decade he had established himself as a true leader of the naturalistic tradition. His gentle and sensitive oil landscapes are rivaled only by Constable, in expression of nature’s changing moods. He explains in his Treatise on Landscape Painting that:
The principal art of Landscape painting consists in conveying to the mind the most forcible effect which can be produced from the various classes of scenery; which possesses the power of exciting and interest superior to that resulting from any other effect; and which can only be obtained by a most judicious selection of particular tints, and a skilful arrangement and application of them to differences in time, seasons and situation.
In watercolour, Cox's style was rugged, realistic and down-to-earth. He often depicted broad, windswept landscapes with racing clouds, often using for his watercolours rough, textured paper for greater effect.
Mother and Child by the Shore are one of the sparkling beach scenes he painted in oil during the 1840’s. These later works, especially those painted on Rhyl Sands in North Wales, anticipate the Impressionists in their vigorous, broken brush stokes, breezy, open-air freshness and lightness of colour. Cox made regular sketching trips to Bettws-y-Coed, in North Wales, which, because of him, became a popular area for a host of other Victorian landscape painters.