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Oil painting - The Antiquary's Cell
  • The Antiquary's Cell
    Cooke, Edward William RA, FRS, FSA, born 1811 - died 1880
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The Antiquary's Cell

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    1835 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cooke, Edward William RA, FRS, FSA, born 1811 - died 1880 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 1 []

Object Type
Oil paintings that showed romantic views of the past grew increasingly popular during the 19th century, in parallel with the ever-increasing desire to collect 'antiques'.

Subjects Depicted
This is a view of the interior of John Sheepshanks's own study at Barnes by the River Thames near Putney. Cooke visited various antiques dealers in London's Wardour Street and numerous curiosity shops in order to make up a convincing assemblage of antiques and botanical and zoological specimens. Prior to the rush of classification that was a feature of High Victorian science, many collectors and antiquaries had chaotic arrays of curiosities strewn around their rooms. As more scientific-minded historians and biologists replaced antiquaries, nostalgic pictures of picturesque but random collections like this were increasingly in demand. It has been suggested that Cooke was inspired by the description of Jonathan Oldbuck's study in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Antiquary, published in 1816.

Edward William Cooke (1811-1880) started painting when he was very young, and aged only nine made drawings for the Encyclopaedia of Plants (1820). He had a long and profitable career as a marine painter, exhibiting 130 works at the Royal Academy. John Sheepshanks collected 11 of his paintings, as well as a number of watercolour studies for them.

Physical description

Oil on panel entitled 'The Antiquary's Cell'.

Place of Origin

Britain (painted)


1835 (made)


Cooke, Edward William RA, FRS, FSA, born 1811 - died 1880 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on panel


Height: 57.8 cm, Width: 75.6 cm

Object history note

Commissioned by John Sheepshanks and given by the Museum in 1857. Painted by Edward William Cooke (born in London, 1811, died in Groombridge, Kent, 1880)

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'The Antiquary's Cell' by Edward William Cooke. Great Britain, 1835.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 42

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The modern concept of 'antiques' became established in the early 19th century and was at first only associated with artists and keen collectors. The romantic assemblage of old and obsolete objects shown here, including armour, ceramics and furniture, was borrowed by the artist from a number of antique and curiosity dealers in Wardour Street, Soho, London, which was at that time the centre of the antiques trade. [27/03/2003]


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted



Paintings; British Galleries


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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