Cook, Samuel (DNB00)

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COOK, SAMUEL (1806–1859), water-colour painter, was born in 1806 at Camelford, Cornwall. His mother kept a bakehouse, and under the same roof there was a small school, which he attended early in life, learning there reading and writing. He did not obtain any further education, as at the age of nine he was apprenticed to a firm of woollen manufacturers at Camelford, his duty being to feed a machine called a ‘scribbler’ with wool. During the intervals of his labour he used to amuse himself by drawing with chalk on the floor to the annoyance of the foreman, who said that he would never be fit for anything but a limner. His talents gained him employment in painting signboards and scenes for itinerant showmen, and in graining wood. On the termination of his apprenticeship he went to Plymouth, and became assistant to a painter and glazier there, subsequently setting up business in that line on his own account. Every hour he could spare he devoted to sketching, especially by the seaside and on the quays at Plymouth. As his sketches showed increasing merit, they attracted the attention of resident connoisseurs, and found many generous and wealthy patrons. Encouraged by them, he sent, about 1830, some of his drawings to the New Water-colour Society, and was immediately admitted a member. From that time he was a regular contributor to the gallery in Pall Mall till his death, which took place 7 June 1859. His pictures were very much admired, though not numerous, as he never relinquished his trade. They were chiefly coast scenes, rather weak in colour, especially his early works, but they possessed quiet simplicity and truth and real artistic feeling. There is a view of Stonehouse, Plymouth, in the South Kensington Museum.

[Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Art Journal, 1861; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers (ed. Graves).]

L. C.