From the Summer 2016 edition
From the relatively new discipline that is Irish art history, names continue to emerge and their bearers investigated. Such is the case with 19th century Cork genre painter Charles Henry Cook, about whom more has yet to be discovered. He is believed to have lived for a time in Cork city’s Sunday’s Well area maintaining a studio in Patrick Street from whence he sent work to be exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy: Strickland, who reports that he died in Scarborough ‘about 1916’ quotes fro the Freeman’s Journal that Cook was judged to have great power and the promise of a future. He moved to England, being in Bath by 1871 but not a lot else about his subsequent life is certain.
Cook’s paintings have been turning up at auction and in exhibitions in recent years. In 2006, for example, two of his pictures, both dating 1867, were included in the Crawford Art Gallery’s show on 19th-century Irish genre painting, ‘Whipping the Herring’. One of these had the self explanatory title Awaiting the Emigrant Ship while the other, called St.Patrick’s Day, shows revellers celebrating the national holiday. In late April Cork-based Morgan O’Driscoll offered another picture by Cook at auction, called The Traveller at Rest. With pipe in one hand and walking stick in the other, its subject rests on a stone wall with a vista mountains and lake behind and a bundle of possessions wrapped in a piece of red fabric at his feet. Although the clothing looks worn, he is well dressed compared to many of his contemporaries. It is unclear whether this work was produced while Cook was living in Ireland or after his move to England: many Irish artists living outside the country continued to paint such genre scenes. Regardless, it was a very handsome picture and a worthy addition to Cook’s known oeuvre. Rightly it went over the pre-sale estimate of €2,000-€3,000 to go for €4,300.