miércoles, 6 de julio de 2016


Christa Zaat

Edward William Cooke (English painter) 1811 - 1880
A Calm Day on the Scheldt, 1870
oil on canvas
38¼ x 55½ in. (97.2 x 141 cm.)
signed and dated 'E.W. Cooke RA., FRS 1870' (lower right)
private collection

Lot Notes
The subject is a varient of one of the artist's favourite shipping groups, inspired by the seventeeth-century Dutch Masters. He occasionally 'shifted' the scene into the river Scheldt and its estuary. Our painting has the spires of Antwerp in the distance.

Cooke's ledger does not record the name of the original purchaser, but the picture was exhibited in 1890 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery where the lender was recorded as Lord Brassey. Sir Thomas, later first Earl Brassey (1836-1918), was a great naval politician, an MP, a Lord of the Admiralty, an author, an oceangoing yachtsman, and the founder of Brassey's Naval Annual, a name still known in publishing. His fortune came from his father, Thomas Brassey, a railway contractor. Lord Brassey was a friend of Cooke's and bought his only 'modern' picture The Review of the Fleet at Spithead by the Shah of Persia 1873, and presented it to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, now at the National Maritime Museum.

We are grateful to John Munday for his help in preparing this entry. The picture will be published in his forthcoming catalogue raisonée of Cooke's work, no.3.

* * *

Edward William Cooke was an English landscape and marine painter, and gardener.

Cooke was born in Pentonville, London, the son of well-known line engraver George Cooke; his uncle, William Bernard Cooke (1778–1855), was also a line engraver of note, and Edward was raised in the company of artists. He was a precocious draughtsman and a skilled engraver from an early age, displayed an equal preference for marine subjects (in special in sailing ships) and published his "Shipping and Craft" – a series of accomplished engravings – when he was 18, in 1829. He benefited from the advice of many of his father’s associates, notably Clarkson Stanfield (whose principal marine follower he became) and David Roberts. Cooke began painting in oils in 1833, took formal lessons from James Stark in 1834 and first exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Institution in 1835, by which time his style was essentially formed.
He went on to travel and paint with great industry at home and abroad, indulging his love of the 17th-century Dutch marine artists with a visit to the Netherlands in 1837. He returned regularly over the next 23 years, studying the effects of the coastal landscape and light, as well as the works of the country's Old Masters, resulting in highly successful paintings. These included 'Beaching a Pink at Scheveningen' (National Maritime Museum, London), which he exhibited in 1855 at the Royal Academy, of which he was an Associate from 1851. He went on to travel in Scandinavia, Spain, North Africa and, above all, to Venice.
Cooke was "particularly attracted by the Isle of Wight, and on his formative visit of 1835 he made a thorough study of its fishing boats and lobster pots; above all he delighted in the beaches strewn with rocks of various kinds, fishing tackle, breakwaters and small timber-propped jetties."
He also had serious natural history and geological interests, being a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Fellow of the Geological Society and Fellow of the Zoological Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries. In the 1840s he helped his friend, the horticulturist, James Bateman fit out and design the gardens at Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, in particular the orchids and rhododendrons. His geological interests in particular led to his election as Fellow of the Royal Society in 1863 and he became a Royal Academician the following year.

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