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Watercolour - Purley Hall, Berkshire
  • Purley Hall, Berkshire
    Cotes, Francis R.A., born 1726 - died 1770
  • Enlarge image

Purley Hall, Berkshire

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Berkshire (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1756 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cotes, Francis R.A., born 1726 - died 1770 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, room WS, case R, shelf 6, box R

A landscape view of a large country house was a popular subject for early watercolourists. This work is highly finished. The figures, presumably the owners of the house, gaze at their extensive property. Francis Cotes (1726-1770) is perhaps best known for his portraits in crayon. He was a founder-member of the Royal Academy in London.

Physical description

Watercolour depicting Purley hall in Berkshire, a landscape with view of a country seat. Signed and dated by the artist.

Place of Origin

Berkshire (probably, painted)


1756 (painted)


Cotes, Francis R.A., born 1726 - died 1770 (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

F Cotes delt. 1756
Signed and dated in pencil


Height: 14.5 in, Width: 21.125 in

Descriptive line

Watercolour by Francis Cotes depicting Purley Hall in Berkshire, entitled 'Landscape with View of a Country Seat'. Great Britain, 1756.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1932. London: HMSO, 1933.

Labels and date

[Provisional label written by Ronald Parkinson for his travelling exhibition and accompanying book British Watercolours at the Victoria and Albert Museum, V&A Publications, 1998.]

Francis COTES R.A. (1726-1770)
Signed and dated by the artist F.Cotes delt. 1756
37.1 x 53.7 cm
Purchased 1932

One of the earliest categories of subject-matter for watercolourists, along with portraits in miniature, botanical and ornithological studies, was the topographical view of a country house. Francis Cotes was a founder member of the Royal Academy, and is today principally known as a portrait artist in oils and crayons. But he also produced topographical watercolours, of which the one in the V&A is a fine example. The watercolour is highly finished, with the figures - presumably the owners of the house, proudly gazing at their extensive property - perhaps adding an extra, human, dimension to the meaning of the image.

The unusually low horizon with its distant sloping hills is broken by the towering trees in the foreground. Most of the trees are evidently newly planted, their slender trunks making a pattern of vertical lines on both left and right. The older tree, with its trifurcated trunk, dominates the composition, and frames the subject of the watercolour, the great house. The reaction to nature, here in 1756, connects the desire in the eighteenth century to tame the garden landscape by introducing man-made elements such as the urns on plinths, and at the same time enjoy contact with nature, in the company of the family - the husband and wife, their children - and their dogs. []




Watercolour drawing

Subjects depicted

Houses; Trees; Landscape; People


Paintings; Landscapes; Topographical watercolours


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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