(click image to enlarge)
Early in his career, in 1800 and 1802, John Sell Cotman undertook two sketching tours of Wales, an endeavour that had become nearly obligatory during the Napoleonic Wars among British artists in search of the Sublime and the Picturesque.
On his second tour of the country, Cotman and his companion, Paul Sandby Munn, produced drawings and watercolours of cottages, alongside images of the more established natural and architectural sites. A Moss-Covered Cottage is likely to be from this group and, in its Picturesque synthesis of the natural and the man-made, may be compared to A Hovel, a monochromatic watercolour that has been dated to about 1801 (and was once in the collection of Dr J D Redmill). However, it indicates the development of the artist’s style much more than does A Hovel, its flat washes emphasising the building’s outline and giving a monumentality to its basic structure.