Throughout a long and productive career, Cox (1783–1859) made a specialty of capturing the effects of weather and light in the English and Welsh countryside. Born in Birmingham, Cox began as a watercolor painter in London in 1804, the founding year of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours, of which he would later become a member and regular exhibitor. Through the 1830s his watercolors reflected many of the dominant trends in British landscape and watercolor painting. Toward the end of that decade he took up oil painting, and in 1841 returned to Birmingham to pursue his work in the new medium. The quality of his landscape painting in oils has yet to be fully recognized. He by no means abandoned watercolor painting, and in these same years his watercolors gained a remarkable boldness, gravity, and freedom of technique that set them apart from current fashion. In the last decades of his life he stood out as one of watercolors most original and distinctive practitioners. — The Yale Center for British Art website

Biographical matters




Finberg, A. J. Drawings of David Cox. “Modern Master Draughtman” series. London: George Newnes, 1906; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906. Internet Archive web version of a copy at the Getty Research Institute. 9 May 2017.

Hall, William. A Biography of David Cox. London, 1881.

Hardie, Martin. Water-colour Painting in Britain: The Romantic Period. Ed. Dudley Snelgrove, Jonathan Mayne, and Basil Taylor. London: B. T. Batsford, 1967. II, 190-209.

Roe, F.Gordon. Cox the Master: the Life and Art of David Cox 1783-1859. Leigh-on-Sea, 1946.

Solly, N. Neal. Memoir of the Life of David Cox. London 1873; facsimile edition, London 1973..

Sun, Wind, and Rain: The Art of David Cox. Exhibition catalogue. Ed. Scott Wilcox. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art/Yale University Press, 2009.

This exhibition included more than one hundred of his watercolors and drawings and approximately a dozen paintings. The works were drawn from the Center’s collection, as well as from public and private collections in Great Britain and the United States.

Last modified 27 June 2020