Cousen, John (DNB00)

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COUSEN, JOHN (1804–1880), line engraver, was born at Miryshaw near Bradford in Yorkshire 19 Feb. 1804. He was a pupil of John Scott, the animal engraver, but at an early period of his career he devoted himself to landscape engraving, and became one of the ablest engravers of the best period of the art. His exquisite taste is best displayed in his smaller book-plates, especially those after Turner for the ‘Rivers of France,’ viz. the ‘Light-Towers of the Hève,’ ‘Harfleur,’ ‘Honfleur,’ ‘Château-Gaillard,’ and the ‘Bridge of Meulan.’ These are full of artistic feeling and power of execution. Nearly equal to them are his plates after Stanfield in ‘Heath's Picturesque Annual’ for 1833 and 1834, and after Cattermole in that for 1835, and those after David Roberts, James D. Harding, and James Holland in the ‘Landscape Annual’ for 1834 to 1839. Besides these he engraved a plate of ‘Babylon’ for Finden's ‘Landscape Illustrations of the Bible;’ another for Stanfield's ‘Coast Scenery;’ two plates for White's ‘Views in India;’ and ‘Folkestone Beach,’ ‘St. Agatha's Abbey,’ ‘Whitby,’ and ‘The Abbey Pool,’ the last four after Turner, and published in ‘Art and Song’ in 1867. His larger works, ‘Mercury and Herse’ after Turner, and ‘Towing the Victory into Gibraltar’ and ‘The Morning after the Wreck,’ both after Stanfield, are of great excellence, as are also his plates for the Royal, Vernon, and Turner Galleries, issued in the ‘Art Journal.’ Those for the ‘Royal Gallery’ comprise ‘The Old Mill’ after Hobbema, ‘The Fountain at Madrid’ after David Roberts, and ‘The Harvest Field’ after Tschagenny; while those for the ‘Vernon Gallery’ include ‘A Woodland View’ after Sir David Wilkie, ‘Rest in the Desert’ after W. J. Müller, ‘The Cover Side’ after F. R. Lee, ‘Cattle: Early Morning on the Cumberland Hills’ after T. Sidney Cooper, ‘The Old Pier at Littlehampton’ and ‘Dutch Peasants returning from Market,’ both after Sir A. W. Callcott, ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ and ‘The Canal of the Giudecca and Church of the Jesuits, Venice,’ both after Stanfield, and ‘The Mountain Torrent’ and ‘Peace’ after Sir Edwin Landseer, the figures in the last-named plate being by Lumb Stocks. The plates which he engraved for the 'Turner Gallery' are 'Calais Pier: Fishing Boats off Calais,' 'Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army crossing the Alps,' 'Peace: Burial at Sea of the Body of Sir David Wilkie,' 'Petworth Park,' and 'St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall.' He engraved likewise for the 'Art Journal' 'Labour' and 'Rest' after John Linnell, 'Crossing the Stream' after Sir A. W. Callcott, and 'A Dream of the Future' after Frith, Creswick, and Ansdell. Cousen was of a somewhat reserved and retiring disposition, but his kindness of heart, genial humour, and unaffected simplicity of character endeared him to those friends with whom he associated. In consequence of weak health he retired from the practice of his profession about sixteen years before his death. Twice only, in 1863 and 1864, did he exhibit at the Royal Academy. He died 26 Dec. 1880, at South Norwood, London, and was buried in Croydon cemetery. His younger brother, Charles Cousen, is also known as a line engraver of ability.

[Times, 29 Dec. 1880; Athenaeum, 1 Jan. 1881; Art Journal, 1881, p. 63; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves, 1886, i. 320; information from Lumb Stocks, esq., R.A.]

R. E. G.