Cozens, Alexander

, a Russian by birth, was a landscape painter in London, but chiefly practised as a drawing-master. He taught in a way that was new and peculiar, and which appears to have been adopted from the hint given by Leonardo da Vinci, who recommends selecting the ideas of landscape from the stains of an old plaster wall, and his method of composing his drawings may be considered as an improvement upon the advice of Da Vinci. His process was to dash out, upon several pieces of paper, a number of accidental large blots and loose flourishes, from which he selected forms, and sometimes produced very grand ideas; but they were in general too indefinite in their execution, and unpleasing in their colour. He published a small tract upon this method of composing landscapes, in which he has demonstrated his process. He also published some other works, the most considerable of which was a folio, entitled “The Principles of Beauty relative to the Human Head,1778, French and English, a very ingenious, but somewhat fanciful work, illustrated with engravings by Bartolozzi, showing the gradations of character, from the outline of a feature, 'to the outline of the face, and to each face is applied an head dress in the style of the antique. He also published “The various species of Composition in Nature, in sixteen subjects, on four plates,” with observations and instructions and “The shape, skeleton, and foliage of thirty-two species of Trees,1771, reprinted 1736; but, in Mr. Edwards’s opinion, not very creditable to the artist. As a drawingmaster, he had very considerable reputation and employment. He attended for some years at Eton school, and among other pupils of high rank, had the honour of giving some lessons to his royal highness the prince of Wales, He died at his house in Leicester-street, Leicester-square, April, 1786, leaving a son John Cozens, who greatly excelled him as a landscape painter: rejecting his lather’s method of fortuitous blots and dashes, he followed the arrangements of nature, which he saw with an enchanted eye, and drew with an enchanted hand. He owes his fame to those tinted drawings, of which, Mr. Fuseli says, the method has been imitated with more success than the sentiment which inspired them. A collection of his drawings, amounting to ninety-four, the property of Mr. Beckford, were sold by Christie in 1805, and produced 510l. He visited Italy twice, where he appears to have drawn most of these | In 1794, he was seized with a mental derangement which continued to his death in 1799. 1


Edward’s Continuation of Walpole’s Anecdotes. Fuseli’s Pilkington.