Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/72

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Cope
Cope
60

bought by William Beckford of Fonthill, and repeated for Lord Lansdowne. After visiting Siena, Verona, Parma, and Venice, Cope returned to England and took lodgings in Newman Street, London. He shortly afterwards removed to 1 Russell Place, where his landlord, a musical man, and his family, whose name was Kiallmark, sat for his models. Here he painted ‘Paolo and Francesca’ and ‘Osteria di Campagna,’ which were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837 and 1838 respectively. Miss Kiallmark sat for the principal figure in the latter. They attracted notice, and ‘Paolo and Francesca’ was bought by the Art Union of London, and the other by Mr. Villebois of Benham, who gave him for it 150l., a large sum to the artist at that time.

In 1839-40 he painted a large altar-piece (16 feet by 10) for St. George's church, Leeds, in a large room in Lisson Grove, formerly occupied by Haydon. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1840, received a premium of 50l. at Liverpool, and was presented to the church by the artist.

John Sheepshanks [q. v.] had been Cope's friend from boyhood, and it was at his house that he made friends with George Richmond [q. v.] and Richard Redgrave[q. v.] It was during his residence in Russell Place that the Etching Club was founded, of which Cope was one of the original members. While on a sketching and fishing excursion with Richard Redgrave in the valley of the Greta and the Tees, and living at Mortham Tower, he met the father of his friend Harrison (who had died), and it was at his house (Stubb House) that Cope met his future wife, Miss Charlotte Benning, the daughter of a surgeon with a large country practice. Despite much opposition from her mother, the marriage took place on 1 Sept. 1840, and the couple, after a brief occupation of furnished lodgings in Lisson Grove, moved to Hyde Park Gate, Kensington Gore, in 1841. While staying with his friends the Sulivans at Ashford (Middlesex), Cope had been much struck with a scene at a meeting of a board of guardians at Staines, and he made it the subject of a picture which was exhibited at the Academy in 1841. It was called ‘Poor Law Guardians: Board-day application for bread.’ It attracted a great deal of attention, but, to his surprise and discouragement, it was returned unsold at the close of the exhibition. It was sold two years afterwards for 105l. to the winner of one of the prizes of the Art Union of London.

Cope now directed his energies to the competitions for the decoration of the Houses of Parliament, and obtained in 1843 a prize of 300l. for his cartoon of ‘The First Trial by Jury.’ This success induced him to learn fresco painting. To the competition of 1844 he sent a simple and beautiful design of the ‘Meeting of Jacob and Rachel,’ and was one of the six painters commissioned in July of that year to prepare cartoons, coloured sketches, and specimens of fresco painting for the decoration of the House of Lords, and he received 400l. for his design of ‘Prince Henry, afterwards Henry V, acknowledging the authority of Chief-justice Gascoigne’ (see Return to H. of C. 23 of 1854). Cope received a commission to execute this design in fresco, and also another of ‘Edward the Black Prince receiving the Order of the Garter.’ Both frescoes were duly executed, but are now in ruins. These commissions were followed by others, and Cope was for many years so much engaged on his frescoes in the House of Lords that his only oil pictures were small and of a domestic character. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1843.

In 1845 Cope went with Mr. Horsley to Italy to examine the technical methods of fresco painting; he also went to Munich and consulted Professor Hess. In 1846 he visited Switzerland, and in 1848 he exhibited a large picture of ‘Cardinal Wolsey's Reception at Leicester Abbey’ (painted for Prince Albert), and was raised to the full honours of the Royal Academy. In this year he was engaged on the fresco of ‘Griselda’ on the wall of the upper waiting hall of the House of Lords. It is now in ruins as well as another from ‘Lara,’ afterwards painted by Cope in the same hall. A small sketch of the ‘Griselda’ was sold to Munro of Novar. In 1849 he exhibited ‘The First-born’ (life-size), which was painted for Mr. Dewhurst of Manchester. This is perhaps the best known of his easel pictures, as it was engraved by Vernon for the Art Union. Next year he sent to the Royal Academy ‘King Lear and Cordelia’ (painted for the ‘Shakespeare room’ of Isambard K. Brunel, the celebrated engineer), and in 1851 ‘The Sisters,’ sold to Mr. Watt, and ‘Laurence Saunders's Martyrdom’ in three compartments. Another ‘Marriage of Griselda’ was painted for Mr. Betts of Preston Hall, Kent, in 1852, and in 1853 ‘Othello relating his Adventures to Dessdemona,’ for Mr. Barlow of Upton Hall, Ardwick, near Manchester (afterwards repeated for the Duchess of Sutherland but sold to Mr. Leather of Leeds). In this year Cope was seriously ill from an internal tumour. In 1854 he ex-