West Door, St. Nicholas, King’s Lynn

Cotman, John Sell

The Leeds Art Gallery has over six hundred watercolours and drawings by Cotman, one of the finest watercolour painters of the nineteenth century. The Leeds Art Gallery also has in its collection one of the few oil paintings made by Cotman; see under ‘On the Yare’. Born in Norwich, John Sell Cotman was, like J.M.W. Turner, the son of a hairdresser. He attended Norwich Grammar School and probably worked in his father’s hairdressing shop until in 1798, aged sixteen, he moved to London where he worked for a publisher in the Strand. A year later, Cotman had joined Turner and Girtin as a member of the circle of Dr.Thomas Monro, Principal Physician at the Bethlem Hospital and an amateur artist, who encouraged the young artists to copy and colour the work of earlier landscape artists, such as Thomas Hearne. Like Girtin and Turner, Cotman realised there was growing demand for landscape pictures and he undertook sketching tours to the North of England. The first of his three tours in Yorkshire was made in 1803, when he was invited to stay with the Cholmeley family in Brandsby, North Yorkshire in order to give drawing lessons to the family. His third visit was followed by a visit to Rokeby Park and Greta Bridge, where he made studies of the River Greta and the bridge. In 1806, Cotman moved back to Norwich, where he set up a drawing school and exhibited his works, becoming first Vice-President of the Norwich Society of Artists in 1810 and President in 1811. Cotman’s sketch of the West Door, St. Nicholas, King’s Lynn, in pencil and grey wash on wove paper, was made c. 1811 and was intended for Cotman’s Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk, published in 1817. The drawing was bought by the LACF in 1926.


Sketch, pencil and grey wash on wove paper

Other pieces in our collection

Series No. 2

Tucker, William

1968, Sculpture; fibre glass, 83 x 228 x 210

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