A rediscovered small oil painting of a fishing boat leaving Calais Harbour by E W CookeA rediscovered small oil painting of a fishing boat leaving Calais Harbour by E W Cooke

A small oil painting of a fishing boat leaving Calais Harbour by E W Cooke hung in Hamilton Palace

£ 12,800.00




Edward William Cooke


Framed: Width 14 ½ inches Height 12 ½ inches

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A rediscovered small oil painting of a fishing boat leaving Calais Harbour by E W Cooke, depicting a fishing boat from Trouville battling stormy seas as it attempts to reach the harbour in Calais. 

Label on reverse  ‘No. 4 Trouville Fishing boat entering Calais Harbour, E W Cooke, The Ferns, Victoria Road, Kensington.’



Exhibited in Glasgow in 1849 (probably the West of Scotland Academy of Fine Arts exhibition)

Acquired by the Glasgow Art Union for 10 Gns

Won in the Glasgow Art Union ballot by the Duke of Hamilton

Hung at Hamilton Palace until sold in the famous Hamilton Palace sale lot 1078 “Trouville Fishing Boat entering Calais Harbour” for 80 Gns to Thomas Agnew and Sons

Sold By Agnew’s to the collector Henry Dewhurst on the 13th of October 1882, probably from the Manchester branch of the dealership (stock number 2497)

Sold from the Henry Dewhurst collection at Christie’s King Street on the 19th of April 1890

Reacquired at the sale by Agnews (stock number 5531) and sold to “Mrs Kay” in February of 1891

This fine painting is by the great English maritime artist Edward William Cooke (1811-1880), regarded by many as the leading English marine painter of the latter part of the 19th century.  

Aside from its obvious visual interest, this painting has quite exceptional history.  Painted in 1848, it was exhibited in Glasgow in 1849 according to John Munday’s definitive work on the artist ‘E. W. Cooke: A Man of His Time’, a copy of which is included with the painting.  The provenance of the painting is discussed on page 326.  It was acquired by the Glasgow Art Union at this stage.  The Art Union was a subscription society and for an annual fee, members were entitled to an entry in the ballot for that year.  Those members who won prizes were entitled to pick from the available art works acquired by the Union in order based on when their numbers were picked.  A report in the Glasgow Courier, 23rd of April 1850 recorded the prize winners for the year and the Duke of Hamilton, having been drawn 30th, chose the present painting as his prize and hung it at Hamilton Palace.  Despite the competition from many other world class works of art for hanging space, the painting remained in the Palace until Christie’s famous 17 day long sale in 1882 when the piece was sold to the top dealers Thomas Agnew and Sons for 80 Gns. To place this in context, lots 1077 and 1080 were two portraits by Sir Peter Lely and our painting, sold two years after Cooke’s death, achieved a higher price than either of the aforementioned works.

Agnews sold the painting from their Manchester gallery to the collector Henry Dewhurst, part of the Dewhurst dynasty of woollen fabric printers based in Huddersfield. He hung the work along with other pieces by Cooke and other modern artists in his home Fartown Lodge in Huddersfield, only selling the work when he retired to Eastbourne late in his life. Like Cooke, Dewhurst was an amateur scientist with a great interest in astronomy and perhaps it was these shared passions that drew him to the artist’s work.

Edward William Cooke

A true 19th century “renaissance man”, Cooke was born in to a very artistic family. His father George and Uncle William Bernard were both highly-regarded engravers who had completed work for such artists as J. M. W. Turner and Edward inherited their talents, becoming a very skilled engraver himself. His real interest lay in painting in oils and watercolour and he made many trips to Europe where he was particularly inspired by the Dutch maritime artists of the 17th century such as the Van de Velde family. 

His career included numerous works exhibited at the Royal Academy as well as in all the major provincial exhibitions in Birmingham and Glasgow etc. He also exhibited abroad, becoming an honorary member of the National Academy of Design in America.

Cooke was particularly highly-regarded for his depictions of the rigging of vessels which he recorded with near-academic rigour. He combined a flair for fine draughtsmanship with practical knowledge of the sea and sailing, making him incredibly adept in his chosen field.

In addition to his artistic prowess, Cooke was very interested in science and natural history, becoming a member of the Linnean Society and gaining fellowship status as a member of the Zoological Society, Natural History Society and a member of the Society of Antiquaries. He even has the distinction of having had a snake named after him-the Corallus Cooki-by his friend John Edward Gray in 1842.

Works by Cooke are in numerous important public collections such as the British Museum and the National Maritime Museum which holds a very large number of the artist’s drawings in particular. In terms of private collectors, the late Sir Nicholas Goodison was a particular enthusiast for Cooke’s work.

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