Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Rise & Fall of English Fantasy Paintings - Frank Cadogan Cowper 1877–1958

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) VanitySometimes referred to as "the Last Pre-Raphaelite," Englishman Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877–1958) grew up fascinated with the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882) & John Everett Millais (1829–1896).

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) VanityHe studied at St John's Wood Art School in 1896, & at the Royal Academy Schools from 1897-1902. In 1902, Cowper spent 6 months in the studio of the successful American artist Edwin Austin Abbey in Fairford, Gloucestershire, before traveling to Italy to continue his art studies.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) Mariana in the SouthIn 1904, he became an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society; in 1907, an Associate of the Royal Academy; & in 1911, a full member of the RWS. His attention to historical detail garnered a commission for the mural scheme in the Houses of Parliament in 1910, along with fellow "Neo-Pre-Raphaelites" Byam Shaw, Ernest Board, & Henry Arthur Payne.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) Molly Duchess of Nona 1905By the 1920s the market for meticulously painted literary & historical scenes was in decline, although Cadogan Cowper's career as a portrait painter continued to flourish.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) RapunzelCowper continued to regularly submit portraits, predominantly of young society ladies, to the Royal Academy summer exhibitions; but by the time he was elected RA in 1934, modern taste had little time or respect for his old-fashioned painting style or subject matter.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) The Patient GriseldaHe continued to exhibit his Pre Raphaelite style paintings & portraits right up until his death at the age of 81 in 1958. At his studio sale in Cirencester shortly after his death, canvases were offered "Suitable for reuse," so unappreciated was his art. And as a final insult, his Goldalming Church altar triptych was dismantled & sold to a buyer from the USA in 1964.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) The Golden Bowl
In more recent years, however, Cadogan Cowper's popularity is on the rise, as young readers devour tales of Harry Potter & dream of times gone by.

Frank Cadogan Cowper (English painter, 1877–1958) Elizabeth, Daughter of Major General F. V. B. Willis