John Sell Cotman, Kett's Castle, Norwich (1810, pencil and watercolour, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery): John Sell Cotman, Kett's Castle, Norwich (1810, pencil and watercolour, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery).
October 2011-October 2014
Principal Supervisor: Dr Sarah Monks (UEA). Second supervisor: Dr Andrew Moore (Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery).
This project will critically re-evaluate the art and career of the Norwich-born artist John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), one of the most innovative artists working in early 19th-century Britain, and a figure whose impact on the history and practice of watercolour drawing is rivalled only by JMW Turner. The project aims to reassess Cotman's significance as an artist through close analysis of his artworks and associated archival materials. In particular, the project will focus on the intersection between Cotman's artistic output, his shifting social and geographical locations, and his attempts to construct a satisfactory artistic identity for himself. As such, it is hoped that this project will offer new perspectives on the character of regional, metropolitan and national art worlds during this period, and contribute to an emergent body of art-historical scholarship which has begun to consider the relationship between artistic experience, identity and practice in Britain. As a central feature of its art collections, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery holds the bulk of Cotman's oeuvre (41 oil paintings, over 1,000 watercolours and other drawings, over 1,000 etchings). Sarah Moulden spends 2 days a week working in the Museum on these items as part of her full-time research, which will culminate in a PhD dissertation, short interpretative texts concerning selected works for publication on the Museum's website, and a focused exhibition at the Museum on an aspect of Cotman's work which has emerged from her research.