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Between 1811 and 1818 John Sell Cotman published a series of etchings depicting the architectural antiquities of his native county, Norfolk, the exterior and interior of buildings and antiquities of note including many church doorways and fonts.  Produced after his own drawings, the etchings were accompanied by descriptions anonymously authored by his antiquarian patron, Dawson Turner. 


The Artist and Etcher: John Sell Cotman (1782-1842)


A marine and landscape painter as well as an etcher and illustrator, John Sell Cotman was a prominent member of the Norwich School of painters.


By the age of 18 he was exhibiting at the Royal Academy and moved from Norwich to London where he made a living through commissions from print sellers. He met other artists including Turner, Peter de Wint and Thomas Girtin and Girtin especially was influential in his development.


He made extensive drawing trips in England and Wales between 1803-05 and moved back to Norwich in 1806. He made a living through teaching art.


In 1811 his first set of architectural etchings was published, predominantly buildings in Yorkshire. From 1812-20 he published a set of 60 etchings of the ancient buildings of Norfolk. Between 1817 and 1820 he frequently visited Normandy on drawing expeditions with Dawson Turner and the fruits of his labours were published in a set of 100 etchings.


From 1812-23 Cotman lived on the coast at Great Yarmouth and produced a number of marine paintings during this time.


He moved back to London in 1834 as Master of Landscape Drawing at King’s College, London, apparently recommended by Turner. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was one of his pupils. In 1838 all of his etchings were published by Henry George Bohn including Cotman’s ‘Liber Studiorum’, a series of soft-ground etchings done by the artist between 1805 and 1814 for his own pleasure and not really intended for publication.


The font

The font is in the church of St Lawrence, Castle Rising, Norfolk. A square Norman font on a fat, short round stem.  The rim of the bowlhas a plaited band and at the corners are heads of cat-like creatures looking outwards and upwards. Below scallops which are intricately decorated on two of the sides. Interestingly there is nothing overtly Christian about the imagery on this font. 



Elevations of the font at Castle Rising, John Sell Cotman - Framed Antique Print

SKU: 1244
  • Image Number: 1244
    Title: Elevations from the Font at Castle Rising Church, Norfolk
    Artist: John Sell Cotman

    Engraver: John Sell Cotman

    Publisher: John Sell Cotman
    Medium: Etching

    Date: 1817
    Price: £200

  • If you would like to come and see a print or have any questions please get in touch by emailing

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