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Circle of David Cox O.W.S. (1783-1859) - Calais Pier
  • Circle of David Cox O.W.S. (1783-1859) - Calais Pier

    The oil painting that links to this watercolour is currently held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool (on display at Sudley House) and is a very similar composition. There was furthermore an engraving produced titled 'Calais Pier' in 1832 (see photographs) which is of the same picture. Cox first travelled to France in 1829 and then again in 1832 and his views of the continent are highly sought after today. Neil Solly who helped to compile Cox's memoirs and wrote about the known watercolour and oil paintings by the artist refers to 'Calais Pier' on various occasions. The initial reference is to the oil painting already mentioned but intriguingly 'Calais Pier' is mentioned twice as a watercolour. The first is of it being an 'important drawing in Mr Quilter's collection' and the second of a version in Mr Ellis's collection, referring to a work of ''Calais Pier' with boats and a rough sea.'' [1] 


    This work can be compared to a watercolour in the British Museum's Collection by David Cox of 'Calais Harbour, view looking towards the sea' (catalogue number 1878,1228.92). It has various similarities to our work including the depiction of the sky and scratching out for parts of the sea. It also has almost identical measurements, with the British Museum work being 17.8 x 26.3 cm. 


    Frustratingly, there is no signature on our watercolour which is why this work has been been catalogued as 'Circle of' David Cox. It is very much in his style but could also have been produced by a skilled contemporary who knew of the Calais Pier picture. Further research could certainly help in identifying the artist.


    Cox painted many similar watercolours of Calais and these works can be found in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Birmingham Museum and Whitworth Museum in Manchester.


    Medium: watercolour on paper, 17.5 x 24.8 cm, mounted.


    Provenance: Collection of Bill Thomson (owner of the Albany Gallery).




    (1) Solly, Neil N. 'Memoir of the Life of David Cox', Chapman and Hall: London (1873, reprinted 1973), p.261, pp.269-270.


    Condition report: large tear in the bottom left hand corner, this could be professionally restored. Folds on the right hand-side of the watercolour (see photos) and a diagonal fold from the top of the pier going towards the sea (see photos). Smaller fold on the horizon by the boat with the white sail. There is some time staining in the sky with a couple of surface abrasions.

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