On Thursday 18 January the History of Art and Alexander Cozens societies welcomed Guy Peppiatt, watercolour specialist, and Philippa Martin, Keeper of Fine & Decorative Art at Eton College Collections, for a tour of the Verey Gallery exhibition An Etonian Collector: The Richard Amis Bequest.  

The exhibition, ranging in subject matter from Sheikhs to seascapes, is comprised of 28 paintings left to the School by Old Etonian Richard Amis, a lifelong collector and admirer of watercolours.  

After an illuminating introduction by Ms Martin which provided context on Amis’ time studying and living at Eton College in the years following the Second World War, the audience examined works by Joseph Mallord William Turner , Peter De Wint and rather aptly Alexander Cozens’ son, John Robert Cozens. We were told the story of Alexander Cozens himself, who from his flat on Eton High Street taught 18th century Etonians to draw and paint. 

Mr Peppiatt was on hand to provide information on Amis’ acquisitions and the fascinating intricacies of the art market. The works themselves were a captivating testament to what can be achieved with the often overlooked medium of watercolour. Standouts included a beech tree study by Turner, an incredible view of misty Vesuvius by Sartorio (in pastel) and a beautifully composed autumnal landscape by De Wint. 

After an informative circuit of the room, the crowd was invited to pose their questions to the experts and to take time to re-examine their favourites. Perhaps one of the most relevant responses was a reassurance from Mr Peppiatt that although deemed niche by many, the value of watercolour paintings like those on display in the Verey is perennial, simply in his words “[because] they are beautiful objects.”

An Etonian Collector: The Richard Amis Bequest

The Verey Gallery, Eton College
16 November 2023 to 24 March 2024
Open 2.30pm to 5pm on Sundays, or by appointment