Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877 – 1958) was an English painter, described as “the last of the pre-Raphaelites”, though he actually abandoned this style during his career as artistic tastes changed. He is best known for his historical paintings and portraits of pretty women.
Frank was born in Northamptonshire, England. His father was an author who wrote about his cruises around the coast in yachts. He studied at St. John’s Wood Art School before studying at the Royal Academy Schools. He would then display at the Royal Academy, where he would win prizes, and later become a Royal Academician himself. He became proficient in both watercolours and oils. One of the notable features of his early work was his exquisite attention to detail; he dug up a grave to model the graveyard scene in Hamlet, to his neighbors’ surprise, and even traveled to Assisi for his painting of St. Francis of Assisi. His style and subject matter changed with the times, though.
His later portraits at the Royal Academy were not as well received as his earlier works, with his 1958 obituary even stating:
"Of the portraits by which he was generally represented at the RA in later years, it is difficult to speak with enthusiasm, but it can be said that they failed less from lack of ability than from the confusion of aim; a mixture of the decorative and realistic that spoiled both."
Needless to say, compared to the “art” of today, these portraits appear to us today as relished relics from recent history.
Luminous Rain by Kevin MacLeod