Cowen, William (DNB00)

COWEN, WILLIAM (fl. 1811–1860), landscape painter, was a native of Rotherham in Yorkshire. He travelled a great deal, making many sketches in the United Kingdom, and was liberally patronised by Earl Fitzwilliam, at whose expense he proceeded through Switzerland to Italy; there he studied for some time, returning with a stock of landscape sketches, which he turned to good account during a long career as an artist. He first appears as an exhibitor at the Society of Artists in 1811. In 1823 he exhibited at the British Institution, sending three landscapes, two Irish and one Swiss; and he continued to be a constant contributor of landscapes to that exhibition up to 1860. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824, and contributed several landscapes up to 1839. In 1840 Cowen started with his sister on a visit to Corsica, then an unexplored country for artists, and resided for some time in that island, making many sketches. In 1843 he published a series of twelve etchings of Corsica, especially of scenes connected with the early life of Napoleon Bonaparte. These were very favourably criticised, and afterwards with two additions formed the illustrations to a book Cowen published in 1848, called ‘Six Weeks in Corsica,’ containing an account of his adventures and some translations of Corsican poetry. After his return from Corsica, Cowen took up his residence at Gibraltar Cottage, Thistle Grove, Old Brompton, and in 1844 contributed to the fresco competition in Westminster Hall a view of ‘Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Scotland.’ In 1848–9 he contributed several of his landscape works to the Free Exhibition of Modern Art at Hyde Park Corner. Besides the etchings of Corsica mentioned above, Cowen published an etching of a church in 1817, ‘Six Views of Italian and Swiss Scenery’ in 1824; ‘A View of Rotherham,’ published 1826 in Rhodes's ‘Yorkshire Scenery,’ in which there are also two engravings of Roche Abbey from Cowen's drawings; ‘Six Views of Woodsome Hall,’ lithographs, published in 1851; two large aquatints of Harrow-on-the-Hill and Chatsworth; a lithograph view of Kirkstall Abbey, and a lithographed portrait of Jan Tzatzoe, a Kaffir chief. The date of Cowen's death is uncertain, but it was probably in 1860 or 1861.

[Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880; Nagler's Künstler-Lexikon; Guest's Historic Notices of Rotherham; Catalogues of the Royal Academy, British Institution, &c.]

L. C.