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The Art of David Cox Opens at the Yale Center for British Art
David Cox, Pont Neuf from the Quai de l’Ecole, Paris, 1829, watercolor over graphite on wove paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund.

NEW HAVEN.- This autumn the Yale Center for British Art will be the fi rst and only U.S. venue for a major retrospective of David Cox (1783-1859). Marking the 150th anniversary of the artist’s death, Sun, Wind, and Rain: The Art of David Cox examines the work of this important fi gure in the development of British landscape and watercolor painting. The fi rst signifi cant exhibition devoted to his work since 1983, it includes more than one hundred of his watercolors and drawings and approximately a dozen oil paintings. The works are drawn from the Center’s collection, as well as from public and private collections in Great Britain and the United States. Sun, Wind, and Rain: The Art of David Cox has been co-organized with Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, England, where it will be on view in early 2009.

The exhibition takes its title from one of Cox’s best-known watercolors, painted in 1845. Showing a farmer and his wife riding through stormy open country as a distant train crosses the horizon, Sun, Wind, and Rain (Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery) is emblematic of the concerns with the representation of light and atmosphere and weather that lie at the heart of his landscape art. Throughout a long and productive career, Cox made a specialty of capturing the effects of wind and weather in the English and Welsh countryside. The bold and vigorous style of his later years prefi gures Impressionism.

According to Scott Wilcox, a leading authority on the artist and the curator of the exhibition, Cox has long been appreciated for his mastery of the medium of watercolor, but his breadth of interests, intellectual depth, and art-historical awareness have been consistently undervalued. The quality of his landscape painting in oils has yet to be fully recognized. This exhibition will enable the public to gauge the full extent of Cox’s achievement and restore the artist to his position as one of the great landscape painters of the Romantic era.

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 during the Romantic era. In the later 1830s he took up oil painting, and in 1841 he returned to Birmingham to pursue his work in the new medium. 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 watercolor’s most original and distinctive practitioners.

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