Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Art-wise, I love the classical (anywhere from the 15th to 20th century). When not making cute little cartoony characters, I am getting in the habit of copying the masters. I missed out on this practice in art school because, I took commercial art.

II had time today to seek out some inspiration and, lucky me, I found some. In the form of Frank Cadogan Cowper. I had never heard of the fellow until I stumbled on his painting, "Vanity." OMG... just beautiful!

This painting is reminiscent of the work of Bougereau (an all time fav)
 was Cowper's diploma work for the Royal Academy.

So without further ado, here are my favorites of his and maybe a new sketch or two from me will be on the horizon.

Venetian Ladies Listening to the Serenade (again, I am struck by the beauty of his subjects)

This is one below reminds me of Ophelia.

Titania Sleeps

Fair Rosamund and Eleanor  1920

FNot sure the title of this... apologies

Pamela Halford, 1930

The man himself… Self Portrait
And now for a bit about the man himself (courtesy of Artmagick)

Sometimes referred to as 'the Last Pre-Raphaelite', Frank Cadogan Cowper was born in Wicken, Northamptonshire in 1877, son of Frank Cowper, an author who specialised in writing yachting novels. Grandson of the Rector of Wicken and raised in the faith of the Plymouth Brethren, young Frank had a strict religious upbringing, something which would have a profound, though unexpected influence upon his artistic career many years later.
He was educated at Cranleigh, before going on to study art, first at St John's Wood Art School in 1896 and then at the Royal Academy Schools from 1897-1902. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899 and two years later had his first critical success there with An Aristocrat answering the Summons to Execution, Paris 1791. In 1902 Cadogan Cowper spent six months in the studio of the successful American artist Edwin Austin Abbey in Fairford, Gloucestershire, before travelling to Italy to continue his studies. This intense, but varied art education paid off; in 1904 he became an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society, in 1907 an Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1911 a full member of the RWS. A fascination with the early works of Rossetti and Millais is evident in his St Agnes in prison receiving the "shining white garment", a picture that was purchased for the Tate Gallery with funds from the Chantrey Bequest. As well as excelling as a painter in both the mediums of oils and watercolours, Cadogan Cowper was equally proficient as a book illustrator, contributing to Sir Sidney Lee's The Imperial Shakespeare, an edition which included works by Dicksee, Rackham and Brangwyn. The attention to historical detail in his works ensured a commission for the mural scheme in the Houses of Parliament in 1910 along with fellow 'Neo-Pre-Raphaelites' Byam Shaw, Ernest Board and Henry Arthur Payne, upon the recommendation of his mentor E A Abbey. Cadogan Cowper also befriended the ageing Pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes and they had a mutual admiration of each other's work. A second Chantrey Bequest picture Lucretia Borgia reigns in the Vatican in the absence of Pope Alexander VI was purchased for the Tate Gallery in 1914, illustrating a little known episode from Renaissance times. In this, and in other canvases, the artist often explored religious subjects with a humourous slant, sometimes verging on the blasphemous - a theme which continued throughout his career. In spite of this, he received a commission to paint an altarpiece for Godalming Church, with support from Sir Ninian Comper and the widow of G F Watts.
By the 1920s the market for meticulously painted literary and historical scenes was in decline, although Cadogan Cowper's career as a portrait painter continued to flourish. He regularly submitted portraits, predominantly of young society ladies, to the Royal Academy summer exhibitions, but by the time he was elected RA in 1934, modern taste had little time or consideration for his painting style or subject matter. Fortunately patrons like Evelyn Waugh and the Wills family of Misarden ensured that his subject pictures found their way to appreciative homes. He moved to Guernsey at the beginning of World War II, although he was back living in Fairford, Gloucestershire by the end of the war. He moved again in 1951, setting up studio in Cirencester, and regardless of current trends, carried on producing and exhibiting his Pre-Raphaelite style paintings with increased regularity. The following year his painting of A jealous husband having disguised himself as a Priest, heard his own wife's confession caused a bit of a scandal, and was not the first time that the Roman Catholic church had voiced disapproval of one of his Royal Academy paintings. He continued to exhibit, nevertheless, right up until his death at the age of 81 in 1958. At his studio sale in Cirencester shortly after his death, canvases were offered 'Suitable for reuse', so unappreciated was his art. And as a final insult, the Goldalming Church altar triptych was dismantled and sold to a buyer from the USA in 1964.
In more recent years, however, Cadogan Cowper's popularity is once again in the ascendant. His diploma work Vanity (1907) recently graced the front cover of the Royal Academy Magazine. The Cathedral scene from “Faust” – Margaret tormented by the evil spirit (1919) sold at auction for over £100,000 in the year 2000. The gallant knights and tragic maidens that populate his pictures now mesmerize a new younger audience who can fully appreciate the true worth of Frank Cadogan Cowper's art.
Biography by Scott Thomas Buckle

I hope you enjoyed this and much as I did sharing it. Have a wonderful night.

– Jonathan


Madeline said...

oh, I'm in love with all the Pre-Raphaelite painters, can't decide which one is my favorite!

Jonathan said...

I know... it's tough :) Leighton, Millais, Waterhouse, the list goes on. THanks for stopping by,Madeline xoxo

Essay Papers said...

Your post really helped me to understand about this. It has great details and yet it is easy to understand.That's what i was looking for. I will definitely share it with others.Thanks for sharing.

Jonathan said...

That is really great to hear, EP, glad it was helpful. There's a really cool series from the BBC called "Desperate Romantics" about the lives of the early Pre-Raphaelites... follows the lives of Rossetti, Millais and Hunt. They were a colorful bunch. I bought it on iTunes and thought it really well done.



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