David Cox was one of the great masters of the English School. From his early experience in scene painting he learnt the value of broad effects, and from his mentors, Barber in Birmingham and Varley in London, he acquired his skill in the application of clear washes over firm drawing, with which he recorded his first Welsh views during his short stay in Hereford. As early as 1814 he was confident enough to record his thoughts on landscapes for pupils, emphasising “a judicious selection of particular tones and skilful arrangement and application to differences in time, seasons and situations”. This neatly sums up Cox’s art. He understood perfectly how the tones of sky and landscape unite. He became adept at portraying weather of all types. Throughout his life he preferred to work on an absorbent paper which enhanced the broad effects he wished to achieve. In the 1820’s, together with a loosening of technique, he introduced a higher range of colour, with an overlay of broken washes to build up depth. His style developed to a final phase, when, inspired by the landscape round his beloved Bettys-y-Coed he produced works of atmospheric and impressionistic freedom. They were, in his own words, “works of the mind” and not a mere representation of place.
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