Cotman, Joseph John (DNB00)

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COTMAN, JOSEPH JOHN (1814–1878), landscape artist, was the second son of John Sell Cotman, and was apprenticed to his uncle Edmund, who had succeeded to his (John's) grandfather's business [see Cotman, John Sell]. After about two years' apprenticeship he made the acquaintance of Joseph Geldart, a solicitor of Norwich, who was fond of sketching, and Cotman, who down to that time had not applied himself to art, now determined to follow the profession of an artist. Geldart did the same, and the two friends worked together assiduously. He went to London with his father in 1834, and remained there till 1836, when he returned to Norwich to take his brother Miles's [q. v.] practice as drawing-master. He was a good teacher and an artist of much original power, but he suffered from periodical attacks of cerebral excitement, followed by depression, which presented an insuperable bar to success in life. As he grew older these attacks became more frequent; but in the intervals he worked with remarkable energy, producing a large quantity of drawings, many of them of great merit. In his later years he was often reduced to destitution. In February 1878 he went into the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to undergo an operation for cancer of the tongue. The operation seemed quite successful, but his elation at the thoughts of recovery brought on symptoms of his malady, and imprudently leaving his room in the hospital to sketch in the early morning caused a relapse, from which he did not recover. He died at the hospital 15 March 1878, leaving a widow and several children.

[Information communicated by Mr. James Reeve of Norwich.]

C. M.