British artist Edward John Cobbett produced a wide array of whimsical and pleasant landscape and genre scenes. Working during the gritty grind of the industrialised 19th-century, Cobbett’s works became popular as they offered people an escape into cleaner air and lusher pastures.
His skilled execution of composition and perspective was greatly praised for benefitting this profound effect. Critics often noted his ability to contrast the pleasant figures of women and children ‘powerfully against the sky and distances.’
This ability to combine charming figures of rural life with evocative and emotional landscapes enabled Cobbett to dodge the potential threat of his works becoming ‘trifling.’ There is still a realism in his representations of nature. This enhances the fantasy of his works by making them not out of reach, but perhaps a train’s journey away for the viewer, achievable if so desired.
Cobbett exhibited extensively, displaying over 300 hundred works in London during his career. This would surely have helped to develop his renown. Although not much is known about his upbringing, he was tutored in his trade by landscape artist Joseph William Allen (1803-1852). Allen was a founding father of the Society of British Artists and worked predominantly in London.
With Cobbett’s own extensive exhibiting, it is clear he must have spent a lot of time in London. The influence of Allen’s teaching is evident in Cobbett’s work. Their landscapes capture the same ephemeral skies and luscious fields. Cobbett must have undertaken his own travels through the English countryside, however, for he depicts specific places, such as Windsor Park and Cobham, Kent. Once again this allows his works to have a heady aura of the romantic around them whilst not being fully consigned to fantasy.
Cobbett offered his contemporaries the potential of gentile rural life, a much-needed lifeboat on the rising tides of industrial Victorian Britain.
Born in London.
Married Mary Anne Hughes.
Died in London. Buried in Highgate Cemetery.