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Biography for David Cox

Born:1783-04-29 - Heath Mill Lane, Deritend, Birmingham, England
Died:1859-06-07 - Harbourne, Birmingham, England


Cox was the most famous Birmingham artist of the mid-nineteenth century, with a national reputation for his fresh, lively landscape paintings in watercolour and, later, in oil. The Museum has the largest collection of his work anywhere in the world. The child of a blacksmith, he studied initially with a painter of miniatures and also with Joseph Barber (1757-1811), the leading drawing master in the city at the time. He later worked as a scenery painter at Birmingham Theatre Royal and at Astley's Theatre.

In the 1804 century he went to London where he took lessons from the celebrated watercolourist John Varley (1778-1842), and later moved to Dulwich in the south of London as a teacher himself, and gathered a large group of pupils around him. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1805.

In 1808 he married Miss Mary Ragg, the daughter of his landlady. His son David Cox Jnr was born in 1809. Between 1814-1827 he was based in Hereford where he taught at a girl's school. He moved back to London in 1827, and was by this time quite well-known as a painter of landscapes. In 1826 he toured France, Holland and Belgium and, in 1829 and 1832, returned once more to France. Between 1844 and 1856 he made annual visits to North Wales where he made some of his finest watercolours. In 1841 he moved to Harborne, Birmingham where he lived and painted until his death in 1858.

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