Waterfall at Bettws-y-Coed, North Wales
signed 'David Cox' (lower left) and inscribed 'No 1/ The Waterfall/ Bettwys y Coed/ NW/ David Cox' (on a label attached to the backboard)
charcoal, watercolour, gum arabic and bodycolour with scratching out on eight joined sheets of oatmeal and laid paper
2634 x 4012 in. (68 x 103 cm.)
Arthur W. Nicholson
Christopher Chasey, from whom purchased by the present owner to benefit the Andrew Wyld Fund.
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, 1892, no. 80.
London, Guildhall, Loan Exhibition of Watercolour Drawings, 1896.
London, Martyn Gregory, British Watercolours and Drawings 1750-1900, cat. 95, May 2016, no. 16.
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Lot Essay

This late watercolour is executed on eight joined sheets of the ‘scotch’ wrapping paper made from bleached linen sailcloth and designed for wrapping reams of better-quality paper. In Peter Bower’s essay ‘A Remarkable Understanding David Cox’s Use of Paper’, Sun Wind and Rain, The Art of David Cox, Yale, 2008, p. 101, he notes that Cox had obtained a few sheets by chance from the paper merchants Grosvenor Chater and was told by the company that the excise mark indicated it was manufacturerd in Dundee, Scotland. It is more likely, however, that this paper that Cox particularly favoured was manufactured in the northeast of England. He continues, ‘Cox’s use of these papers is a virtuoso performance; the degree and intensity of the sizing, the rugged irregularities in the surface, and the coarse texture from rough couching felts would have defeated a lesser artist.’ (loc.cit.)
This hard-sized paper allowed the artist to work and rework the surface, lifting colour off and repainting. This large watercolour drawing of one of Cox’s favourite subjects was not exhibited in his own life-time. Wales was always a favourite destination for Cox and from 1842 until 1856 North Wales and particularly Bettws-y-Coed near the junctions of the Conwy, Llugwy and Lledr rivers had an especially strong draw for the artist and he returned annually. He stayed at the Royal Oak Inn in Bettws-y-Coed, famously repainting its sign in 1847.
For a biographical note on the artist, please see lot 40.
The Andrew Wyld Fund provides Andrew Wyld Research Support Grants, administered through the Paul Mellon Centre, and offered to students working on a topic in the field of British works of art on paper of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including watercolours, prints and drawings.

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