English Engraver, 1781-1849
Born in Maryland, Cooke abandoned a fledgling career in business at an early age in order to become a full time artist. After several years of painting portraits for a living, Cooke left for what would become a five year tour of Europe. His time there was mostly spent learning from and copying the works of the Renaissance master artists, with many of Cooke's copies being sent back to the United States for show or sale.
After returning to the U.S., Cooke and his wife spent the next decade traveling and working with no fixed home. His work took him throughout the Southern United States, where he primarily made his living painting portraits of both famous and ordinary people, and, by the 1840s, his portraits had earned him both financial success and regional fame.