Graphite and gray wash
Support: Beige wrapping paper
Sheet: 30.3 x 21 cm (11 15/16 x 8 1/4 in.)
Delia E. Holden Fund 1991.22
This drawing is closely related to one in the collection of the Norwich Castle Museum, in which a similarly abstracted figure retreats beneath embowering trees twisted in fantastic shapes.
John Sell Cotman left his native Norfolk at the young age of 16 and traveled to London with the aspiration to be an artist. His work evolved at a rapid pace as he developed a highly original style remarkable for its simple elegance and schematic treatment of the natural world. This landscape was made soon after a trip to Yorkshire. Cotman largely ignored the noteworthy landmarks of the area, preferring obscure views—trees, crumbling stone walls, and dilapidated fences. Inspired by the Greta woods, the straining bows of the trees form a beautifully balanced structure of geometric and amorphous shapes.
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