The Angler: a big catch for our collection

This tranquil watercolour by the midlands artist David Cox (1783-1859) came into Worcester’s collection through a quirk of fate in 1915. It was part of a bequeathed collection belonging to a Reverend and Mrs Sale who lived at the Rectory in Holt parish. Whilst the Sale Collection was primarily the Reverend’s hobby, it is believed that Mrs Sale was the true art enthusiast of the pair. Upon her death, trustees from the British Museum visited the Rectory to examine their collection and, luckily for Worcester, were unable to house so many artworks. The British Museum acquired 18 artworks by Cox, while Worcester’s museum team was able to secure 29 for the city’s collection. The Sale bequest also brought works by Samuel Prout and Peter de Wint to our care, making it one of the most important and cohesive elements of the collection which represents some of the finest artists of the early nineteenth century.

David Cox was born and trained in Birmingham and spent several years as a struggling artist, teaching drawing in Hereford. His financial success as an artist only truly began when he was in his late 40s but by his death in 1859 he was considered one of Britain's greatest watercolourists. The Reverend Sale knew him personally and purchased several works directly from the Cox family. Mr Sale claimed that the fisherman in this painting was Cox himself.

In the early nineteenth-century, watercolour painters were expected to exercise tight control in their artworks and follow precise techniques. Like his contemporary J.M.W. Turner, the rough, loose finish of Cox’s style marked him out as an unconventional - even controversial - artist. As a Victoria Institute catalogue produced at the time of the bequest states, ‘David Cox was not enthralled by convention, he knew no fashion, and had no tricks to hide. … He Copied no one but Nature, and in that he succeeded gloriously.’ Contemporaries noted that The Angler shows off this looser style ‘with its nice breezy sky full of silveriness and motion’.

You can now purchase a high quality print of The Angler and other beautiful artworks online, including Art Gallery & Museum favourites by B.W. Leader and John Harris. If you would like to enjoy our collection in your home, please visit our online print shop at