Painting, 'Silver Birches' by John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), oil on canvas, circa 1824-28; 762 mm x 627 mm
Although John Sell Cotman is primarily known as a watercolourist, he was also an accomplished oil painter. This is considered one of Cotman's finest oil paintings. He used a fresh green and yellow palette to paint the sunlight falling on the foliage and foreground rocks. Far below the rocks the blue-grey river recedes into cool shadow. He applied the paint in bold, opaque spots of colour with a thick impasto. Multiple underlayers found during examination of this painting suggest that there may be more than one composition on the canvas under this image.