This is an exceptional oil painting, in so many ways; one, it's huge. This is one of those paintings that requires just the right place to hang, and also requires that "just the right place" be a large space. Two; this is historically significant. John Cooke (1762-1805), Captain of the ship Bellerephon, was a British Royal Navy Captain in the Napoleonic wars, the French Revolutionary wars, and, most importantly to us in the U.S., the American War of Independence. He was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. By all accounts, he was an exceptional officer, highly regarded by both peers and troops alike.
This painting is, as best I can tell, unsigned. It was professionally cleaned and restored in 2011, and any hopes of a signature turning up were dashed. The first three photos show great detail, but the fourth photo, which isn't so clear is actually the correct color. I guess you either get clarity or color with my camera!
The painting was re-stretched in the 1960s.
The wood/plaster/gilt frame is original, in wonderful condition for its age, and very beautiful.
The medal on Captain Cooke's chest is The Order of the Crescent, one of the four degrees of knighthood. His uniform is that of an early 1800s Post Captain of the British Royal Navy; this uniform style was retired around 1812.
This painting has been in my family for many generations, is part of my mother's estate, and must be sold, much to my dismay.
John Cooke (c.1762 – 21 October 1805) was an experienced and highly regarded officer of the Royal Navy during the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary Wars and the first years of the Napoleonic Wars. Cooke is best known for his death in hand-to-hand combat with French forces during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. During the action, his ship HMS Bellerophon was badly damaged and boarded by sailors and marines from the French ship of the line Aigle. Cooke was killed in the ensuing melee, but his crew successfully drove off their opponents and ultimately forced the surrender of Aigle.
Aside from his death, remarkably little is known of Cooke's circumstances. Even his date of birth is unclear, and unlike many of his fellow officers, Cooke was never a notable society figure. He was however well respected in his profession and following his death was the subject of tributes from officers who had served alongside him. Memorials to him were placed in St Paul's Cathedral and his local church in Wiltshire. (From Wikipedia)
Unsure of artist; unsigned.
No real damage anywhere that I can see—amazing for a 200-year-old + painting! There is some very minor flaking to the gilt plaster frame, and some "bubbling" (for lack of a better term) on parts of the surface of the painting itself, potentially indicating this painting survived a fire. See photos.
34 3/4" tall x 30 1/4" wide x 2" deep.
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