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  • Title
    Item 01: Mrs Elizth Cook. Aged 81 years, 1830 / W. Henderson
  • Call number
    ML 430
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    Paintings - 75 x 63 cm. inside frame 99 x 87 cm. - 1 oil Paintings on canvas
  • Scope and Content
    A half-length portrait depicted in calash, ruff and shawl. The ring on the right index finger has been compared to Captain Cook's memorial ring (held in the Mitchell Library at R 363), but differs in colour and shape.
  • Access Conditions

    Access to this pictures collection via appointment only. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright: Artist died before 1955
    Please acknowledge: : Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • General note

    "This portrait used to hang with 8 others in the George St show room of W. Chorley & Co., Sydney. Mr Henry Chorley offered it on loan in 1938 as "apparently [that of] the wife of Capt. Cook". The offer was not accepted as the authenticity of the portrait could not be proved. See Corres. 1938/55 in and 1938/70 and 148 out. In Oct. 1956 after Mr Chorley's death the 9 portraits were presented to the ML [Mitchell Library] by Mrs H.J.A. Chorley. 6 are of Yorkshire ancestors of F. Thornbury of Sydney called Dale and Reynolds, the 7th is of an unidentified boy probably of the same family, the 8th is of Mr Taylor, engineer, the connection with the Thornburys is not known. None of the names appears in Young's History of Whitby but the Yorkshire marriage registers (for W. Riding) lists a John Dale and Mary Reynolds, Oct. 3, 1802. Graves' Dictionary lists a William Henderson, Whitby 1874-92, painter of figures; there is also a W.P.S. Henderson, domestic painter, London, 1836-74. Other W. Hendersons do not seem to fit. Possibly the portrait was painted by the Whitby Henderson from an earlier drawing or painting. For a description of Mrs. Cook see Muir, J. R. - Life and achievements of Captain James Cook 1939." -- note by Library officer in Mitchell Library Pictures card catalogue. A re-examination of the letters referred to above indicates that the reason the Library declined the offer of a loan of the portrait was not because its authenticity could not be proved, but that "the Trustees are definitely opposed to accepting anything on loan". The Principal Librarian notes a discrepancy between the dates of the portrait and the life of Mrs Cook, adding "but this does not necessarily mean the picture is not of Mrs Cook".
    Elizabeth Cook is described in the following terms in The life of Captain James Cook, by J.C. Beaglehole (London : A. and C. Black, 1974): "In her old age handsome, with good bones and a great deal of dignity, rather than warmly beautiful, her white hair rolled back in an eighteenth century fashion, her face a rather squarish oval, nose aquiline, mouth good but rather too thin, strong jaw - erect, dressed in black satin, her head surmounted by a large cap with goffered edge, tied over a sort of ruff, she must have conferred distinction upon the street" (pp.693-4). A footnote reads: "The preceding paragraph is a good deal founded on the childhood reminiscences of Canon Frederick Bennett, son of John Leach Bennett, Mrs Cook's executor, supplied to Sir Walter Besant for his Captain Cook (1890), 190; and of Miss Eliza Elliotson, of Clapham, as recorded by Louisa Jane Mackrell, great-niece of Isaac Smith" (p.694). It is unclear to what extent this description derives from the portrait itself, which is reproduced by the author.
    Digital order no:Album ID : 874534
  • Signatures / Inscriptions

    "Mrs Elizth Cook. Aged 81 years. W. Henderson. Pinxt. 1830" -- inscription painted on back of canvas, recorded in Pictures card catalogue
  • Creator/Author/Artist
  • Subject
  • Topic

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