GALLERIES/Charles Beddington Ltd
PROVENANCE:James Veitch (1815-1869), by whom purchased at the British Institution exhibition for 40 guineas.
J. Munday, E.W. Cooke, RA, FRS, FSA, FLS, FZS, FGS, 1811-1880: A Man of his Time, Woodbridge, 1996, p. 354, no. 63/16.
London, British Institution, 1864, no. 36, as Euganean Hills and the Lagune of Venice, sunset, low water.
FURTHER INFORMATION:E.W. Cooke first visited Venice on 26 August 1850, recording in his diary that 'when the boat entered the Grand Canal, after passing the Salute the Moon rose and revealed the glories of the scene...the Piazza exceeded all that I could possibly have imagined'. The city was particularly captivating to an artist like Cooke who revelled in painting seascapes and boats as well as landscapes and topographical scenes. He returned to Venice on many subsequent sketching trips, making his last visit in 1877. Cooke made a particular study of the variety of different vessels to be found on the waterways of the city, displaying an understanding of their structure which is not necessarily evident in the work of other artists who specialised in Venetian subjects.
Following the early death of his wife in 1844, Cooke adopted a peripatetic lifestyle, travelling extensively in Britain and Ireland as well as making regular visits to Europe. Whilst travelling, Cooke filled scores of sketchbooks with meticulous pencil drawings of seascapes, landscapes, architecture and local scenes, building up a stock of some 20,000 sheets over the course of his career. Cooke sketched and painted continuously when staying in Venice, and his work there certainly bore fruit, as the city provided the subject for virtually the rest of his exhibiting career, to the point that he was nicknamed 'Venetian Cooke' or 'Il Lagunetto'.
James Veitch began his career at Veitch Nurseries, the flourishing horticulture business founded by his grandfather in 1808 and based in Exeter since 1832. James expanded this to London, with the purchase in 1853 of the Royal Exotic Nursery business of Messrs. Knight and Perry, on the King's Road in Chelsea. He made it into the largest nursery of its kind in Europe, divided into eleven sections: orchid, fern, new plant, decorative, tropical, soft-wooded, hard-wooded, vine, propagating, seed and glass. It became independent of the parent company in Exeter in 1863. Veitch was an enthusiastic collector of the work of Cooke, who, perhaps coincidentally, is known to have had a particular interest in gardening. Cooke employed James Veitch & Sons to help him create an elaborate garden in the 1860s.