Thomas Potter Cooke (1786-1864)
A full-length portrait of Cooke facing to the right in his seaman's costume of a blue jacket. He is shown wearing the medal for the First Chinese War 1842. Though the portrait could have been painted 14 years before the adoption of the uniform for the lower deck, the sailor wears a dungaree collar with three rows of tape garnished also with anchors in the corners. As an actor, he is dressed in the costume for the part of 'William' in 'Black Eyed Susan'. This consists of a blue round jacket with the broad blue jean collar, white ducks and a sennit hat. He carries a cutlass in his right hand and stands on a beach with a house visible in the left background. The sitter served between 1796 and 1802. He was a Marine Society boy who went to sea at the age of 16, in the sloop 'Ryan' in 1798. This ship was present at the battle of St Vincent and the same year he was wrecked with her off Cuxhaven. Finding himself without a berth at sea because of the ensuing peace, in 1801 he left it for the stage. There he remained for the next sixty years and became a popular and well-known figure. Not surprisingly his greatest successes were in the part of a sailor, particularly as 'William' in 'Black Eyed Susan', in which character he appeared over seven hundred times and in which he is shown in this portrait.
- Image reference: BHC2631
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. We regret that Museum enquiries have not been able to identify the copyright holder and would welcome any information that would help us update our records. Please contact the Picture Library.
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