Open main menu

COOK, HENRY (1642–1700), painter, is stated to have been the son of another painter of the same name, who in 1640 was employed by the Ironmongers' Company to paint portraits for their hall, and to copy others of former benefactors; but it is difficult to reconcile this with the accounts of the company, which record payments for these pictures to Edward Cocke, painter. Henry Cook the younger was born in 1642, and is stated to have been of good education and accomplishments, and to have been at Cambridge University. He went to Italy and became a pupil of Salvator Rosa, and during his residence there copied many famous works of art of the Italian school. Returning home to England, he met with no success, and lived in obscurity until he obtained an introduction from Edward Lutterel to Sir Godfrey Copley, who was so much pleased with his work that he took him up to Yorkshire and employed him to paint the decorations of his new house there, paying him 150l. for his services. Subsequently he lived for some time with Theodore Russel, a pupil of Vandyck; but Cook, quarrelling one day with a man about a woman with whom he was then living and afterwards married, killed his rival, and was obliged to flee to Italy to escape justice. Here he resided again for seven years, at the expiration of which he returned to England, where his offence seems to have been forgotten. William III employed him to repair Raphael's cartoons, which remained cut up in slips ever since they had been copied at Mortlake under Francis Clein [q. v.] Cook reunited these and laid them down on canvas, and placed them in a gallery at Hampton Court specially destined to receive them. He also made copies, using turpentine oil in drawing them, a process which he is said to have introduced into England. Cook was also employed to finish the large equestrian portrait of Charles II, commenced by Verrio, which hangs at Chelsea Hospital. He also painted an altar-piece for New College, Oxford (which seems to have disappeared), and as a decorative artist painted the staircases at Ranelagh House and at Lord Carlisle's house in Soho Square, and the ceiling of the great room at the Waterworks at Islington. James Elsum wrote an epigram on a picture of ‘The Listening Faun’ by him, and Vertue records a picture of ‘Charity,’ with life-size figures. Cook also tried portrait-painting, but does not seem to have persevered with it. A portrait of Thomas Mace of Cambridge by him was engraved by W. Faithorne in 1676, as a frontispiece to his ‘Musick's Monuments.’ A small oval portrait of Cook, painted by himself, ‘in his own hair,’ was in the possession of his family, and was bought by Vertue at Colonel Seymor's sale. It was subsequently in the collection of Horace Walpole, for whom it was engraved by Bannerman in the ‘Anecdotes of Painting.’ Cook had a large collection of pictures and drawings, which were sold 26 March 1700. He died 18 Nov. following. He was buried on 22 Nov. in the churchyard of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. One of the chief promoters of the Academy of Painting, established in 1711 in Great Queen Street, was Henry Cooke; but it is uncertain if he was related to the above.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting (4to ed.); Nagler's Künstler-Lexikon; De Piles's Lives of the Painters; Sarsfield Taylor's State of the Arts in Great Britain and Ireland; Ruland's Notes on the Cartoons of Raphael; Elsum's Epigrams on the Paintings of the most eminent masters; Fiorillo's Geschichte der Mahlerey in Gross-Britannien; Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 23068–76; Registers of St. Giles's Church, per Rev. R. H. Brown.]

L. C.