EDWARD WILLIAM COOKE RA
1811 – 1880
Dover Pier vessels entering harbour
Frame size: 21¼ x 26 inches / 54 x 66 cm
Stock number: AA6126/0120
This painting is illustrated in the book E. W. Cooke 1811-1880, A Man of his Time, by John Munday, on page 362.
Two versions of this subject are recorded – the other is in the British Museum.
Edward William Cooke
E W Cooke was an English landscape and marine painter, and gardener. He 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 (especially 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. In 1858, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Academician.
He also had serious natural history and geological interests, being a Fellow of the Linnean Society, the Geological Society, the Zoological Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries. In the 1840s he helped his friend, the horticulturist, James Bateman 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.