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In honour of Canaletto English artist Edward Cooke signed his Venetian views 'Il Lagunetto'
Artist Edward Cooke was so loved by the Dutch that they dubbed him 'Van Kooke'. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The largest known single owner collection of paintings by Edward William Cooke, RA (British, 1811-1880) appears on the art market at Bonhams. The paintings will be offered for sale at the 19th Century Paintings sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 25th June. The Collection as a whole is estimated to realise £300,000.

Twelve of the thirteen oil on paper paintings in the Collection show peaceful views of Venice's harbours and lagoons, where the artist visited in the 1850s-60s.

In honour of his predecessor, the great Venetian born artist Giovanni Antonio Canal - best known as 'Canaletto', Edward Cooke would often signed his paintings of Venice's harbours and lagoons ‘Il Lagunetto’. In the 1860 work, Venice from the lagoon (estimate £30,000-£50,000), 'LAGUNETTO/VENEZIA' is inscribed on the rowing boat to the lower centre of the scene.

Cooke kept meticulous records in his diaries and each of his paintings are signed, dated and catalogued to exact detail so that each ship and each location can be identified. On arriving in Venice, Cooke hired a gondola which he adapted so as to be able to anchor and paint from the water. His first sight of Venice is recorded; "Entered the glorious Venice at 1/2 p 8. When the boat entered the Grand Canal, after passing the Salute the Moon rose and revealed the glories of the scene, but the Piazza exceeded all that I could possibly have imagined".

Evening on the lagoon from Isola San Servolo, Venice is the most valuable work in the group, estimated at £60,000-£80,000. A magnificent ship sits in the calm evening waters, its sails billowing as it drifts into harbour.

Another of the highlights in the collection is Trabaccoli carrying wood, San Giorgio Maggiore and the Dogana beyond, which is offered with estimates of £70,000-£90,000. It captures the calm of Venice's harbour with great ships resting on the glassy waters.

Edward William Cooke was born in London in 1811 and was the son of a prominent line engraver, known for his marine works. Following in his father's footsteps, E. W. Cooke's painting focused on landscape and marine subjects. Cooke travelled and painted a great deal at home and abroad, indulging his love of the 17th-century Dutch marine artists with a visit to The Netherlands in 1837. He returned regularly over the next 23 years, studying the effects of the coastal landscape and light, as well as the works of the Dutch Old Masters.

The artist was so loved by the Dutch that they dubbed him 'Van Kooke'. It was a badge of honour that the artist wore proudly and many of his canvases are signed 'Kooke'.

The collection of Cooke paintings offered for sale was assembled by the well known Warwickshire land owner, Elizabeth Creak, who took a liking to the romantic Venetian views by the artist. Elizabeth Creak came from a family of innovative and enterprising farmers. She was highly capable, well respected and brought many creative ideas to the world of farming. Her business acumen meant that she was invited to the boards of many local charitable organizations including the Royal Agricultural Society. Creak was a supporter of local craftsmen, artists and the theatre. The bulk of Elizabeth Creak's estate, including her valuable picture collection, was left to the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust which was created to provide scholarships in agriculture, and continues to do so to this day.

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