Sunday, February 23, 2020

How Edward Cooke's Paintings Help Historians

Historians and archaeologists are using 19th century paintings to understand how coastal sites in Britain have changed over time, and how better to preserve them.

'The Fishing Cove of Beer’ (1858) by Edward William Cooke RA
One artist whose paintings have been a big help is Edward William Cooke RA (1811-1880). In addition to his interest in painting, he was a devoted student of geology, botany, zoology, and maritime history.

The eastern part of Cooke’s oil painting can be seen in this recent photograph.
"What these artworks show," says Maritime Archaeology Trust, "is the remarkable similarity in terms of the form of the cliff line, the jointing in the cliff face, and the form, profile and nature of the beach. These paintings were all produced by artists who were renowned for their topographical accuracy."

"Cooke was a remarkably accurate painter, a Fellow of the Royal Society with a fascination for coastal geology."
‘Porlock Weir’ by Edward William Cooke RA. 1862.
"Encouraged by the art critic John Ruskin, Cooke sought to capture nature exactly following the ethos of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood."
(More at Cherish: Maritime Archaeology Trust)
Wikipedia: Edward William Cooke RA FRS FZS FSA FGS

1 comment:

Susan Krzywicki said...

This reminds me of another idea about how historical objects help us. Botanical samples, called voucher specimen, are kept in herbaria around the world. Many of the samples are hundreds of years old. One of the details that they show is the relative flowering time (botanists prefer to collect a plant as it is just in flower in order to show reproductive elements clearly) - an indication of when spring had started.

In California, the herbaria are cooperating on a project to document spring's arrival throughout the state over time to show how climate change has affected the flora, and that, of course affects everything else.

Fascinating info re: Cooke's paintings.