Born in Livingston, Staten Island, New York in 1846, Cozzens became one of the era's better known sea painters recognized primarily for his early depictions of the fledgling New York Yacht Club racing events. He was also noted for his portrayal of naval events and maneuvers. In his superior renderings of famous yachts, he was usually commissioned directly by the owners of the vessels.
He illustrated for publications such as Harper's Bazaar, The Daily Graphic, Yachts and Yachting, Our Navy and others. His widely received edition of lithographs, American Yachts, was published in 1884(these prints are highly sought after today.) Early in his career Cozzens became devoted to depicting the America's Cup races and various yachting competitions of the New York Yacht Club. A monograph on his work was published in 1982.
In his day, he had numerous successful exhibitions in New York,
Boston and Philadelphia.