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Biography John Sell Cotman

Portrait of John Sell Cotman

John Sell Cotman was a nineteenth century artist known for his use of watercolours.

When and Where was he Born?

16th May 1782, Norwich, England.

Family Background:

Cotman was the son of a well-off merchant.


1798 sent to London to study painting and met J.M.W. Turner and Girtin.

Timeline of John Sell Cotman:

1798: Cotman goes to London to be an artist and is employed by Rudolph Ackermann at the Depository of Arts in the Strand.

1800: He stays in Wales with the well-known collector Sir George Beaumont.

1803-05: He visits the Cholmeley Family of Brandsby Hall, Yorkshire.

1806: Cotman settles back in Norwich where he opens a school of drawing and design. He becomes Vice President of Crome’s Norwich School of Artists. Helso becomes drawing master to the banker and antiquarian Dawson Turner, in Great Yarmouth.

1809: He marries Ann Miles.

1816-1818: “Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk”.

1819: He writes “Sepulchral Brasses in Norfolk and Suffolk”.

1820: He creates plates for Dawson Turners book “Tour in Normandy”.

Seashore with Boats. 1808.

1822: He creates plates for Dawson Turner’s book “Architectural Antiquities of Normandy”.

1834: Cotman becomes Professor of Drawing at Kings College, London through the offices of Lady Palgrave, Dawson Turner’s daughter.

1838: “Liber Studiorum” (48 soft-ground etchings).

When and Where did he Die?

24th July 1842, London, England. It was reported that he died of “natural decay”.

Age at Death:



“Chirk Aqueduct”.
1805: “Greta Bridge” (British Museum).


1809 to Ann Miles.

Site of Grave:

St. George’s Church, Wellington Road, St. John’s Wood, London, England.

Places of Interest:


Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal.


Bolton Art Gallery.


Tate Britain.


City Art Gallery.


Norwich City and Castle.


Ory Art Gallery, Leeds.

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