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"When I say he paints in the tradition of good portraiture, I am thinking naturally of the tradition of painting with the brush, of direct and selective attack on the characteristic shapes, of thinking primarily in color rather than in light and dark-in short, I am thinking of the tradition gloriously initiated by Hals and Velasquez."
-Frank Jewett Mather Jr.
Best known for his portraits, painter Peter Cook reached a degree of proficiency so early in his career, that he found himself successful at a point where most young artists are still groping in the dark. While studying architecture at Princeton, he became interested in painting after meeting John Folinsbee, a leading member of the New Hope art colony. Cook became a student of Folinsbee and later married Folinsbee's daughter Joan. Honors came to him quickly, including a Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship in 1939, a Second Hallgarten prize in 1944, at the National Academy of Design, and honors from the art museums at Montclair, New Jersey and Clearwater, Florida. Cook often showed his work at Phillips' Mill in New Hope. In 1953, he and his family went to Florence, Italy so that he could complete a foreign study scholarship that had been interrupted by World War II. Cook maintained close ties with Folinsbee, often accompanying his father-in-law, who was wheelchair bound. The two men even worked together on murals sponsored by the Federal Arts Commission.
Peter Cook. Photograph by Ulli Steltzer. Image courtesy of the Newman Galleries.
Connection to Bucks County
Peter Cook married John Folinsbee's daughter, Joan Folinsbee. They moved to Kingston, New Jersey in 1941, establishing a home and studio there. He exhibited his work for many years at the Phillips' Mill Community Association in New Hope, Bucks County.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Peter Cook and John Folinsbee were colleagues and close friends.
Cook was also a friend of sculptor Selma Burke.
Peter Cook (1915-1992), Tuscan Landscape, n.d. Oil. 32 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the Newman Galleries.
Teaching and Professional Appointments
Teacher, National Academy of Design
Teacher, Princeton Group Arts
Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship Art Prize, 1939
Prize, National Academy of Design, 1944
Affiliations and Memberships
Elected to the National Academy of Design, 1966
Peter Cook (1915-1992), Ann McCoy, n.d. Oil. 48 x 32 inches. Image courtesy of the Newman Galleries.
Major Group Exhibitions
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941
National Academy of Design, New York, New York, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1950
Century Club Member Show, 1952
50th Anniversary Retrospective Art Exhibition, Phillips' Mill, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1979
Special Ceremonies Show for Selma Burke, Rodman House, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 1981
Retrospective, Century Association, New York, 1992
Views of Maine, Newman Galleries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1995
Harvard University,Princeton University, The Air and Space Museum, The United States Navy
John Folinsbee by Peter Cook, New York, 1994
Peter Cook (1915-1992), Mars Island Light Station. Oil. 24 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of the Newman Galleries.