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Edward William Cooke RA - Two Drawings of the Wells' estate, Redleaf
  • Edward William Cooke RA - Two Drawings of the Wells' estate, Redleaf

    Cooke developed a close relationship with his patron Mr. William Wells, who was known as Wells of Redleaf. The Wells family had a long connection 'with ships, dockyards and the Thames' with 'an ancestor, John Wells [being] Queen Elizabeth's Storekeeper at the Royal Yard at Deptford' and another 'Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Wells [was] a pall bearer at Nelson's funeral'. (1) William Wells owned a large estate called Redleaf near to Penshurst in Kent, which is where he obtained his nickname. He was a generous and large patron of contemporary British art, and would invite both established and rising artists to his estate to dine and to draw. The estate at Redleaf consisted of many Old Master paintings and also spectacular gardens and wooded grounds to explore. Wells of Redleaf also became a Trustee of the National Gallery and was a Director of the British Institution.


    Cooke first became acquainted with Wells in March 1836 when he took 'a folio of his own drawings [to] Fladong's Hotel to call upon Mr. William Wells who, liking what he saw, gave a commission for a picture of an Isle of Wight coast scene.' (2) Cooke must have received an invitation to Redleaf from Wells at around this time as he visited the estate on the 14th April for the first time. The two drawings we have for sale can be traced to this visit with Cooke recording them in his  diary. For the 19th April Cooke writes 'After bk. went out with Lee (Frederick Richard Lee), drew ploughs &c, back to lunch and then went down to the river and set trimmers, threw cast net and finished; caught 3 Jack and some perch also made sketch of waterfall before dinner; in evng drew Cottages (model) & shells with camera.' (3) Then on the 23rd April the artist writes 'Lee fished below the lower fall and I made two sketches of it'. (4) Fortunately, Cooke dated both of the sketches and this helps to make them an important pair of drawings.


    Medium: pencil on paper from Cooke's sketchbook. Both measure 9.5 x 15.9 cm, mounted. Lower drawing is inscribed l.r. 'Redleaf april 19 1836' and upper drawing is inscribed l.r. 'The lower fall Redleaf april 23'.




    (1) John Munday. E.W. Cooke 1811-1880: A man of his time, London: 1996. p.85.

    (2) Ibid., pp. 85-86.

    (3) Ibid., pp. 286-287.

    (4) Ibid., pp. 287.

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