Michener Art Museum

Peter Cook

Peter Cook, photograph by Ulli Steltzer, photo courtesy of Newman Galleries
BORN: June 10, 1915, New York, New York
DIED: September 24, 1992, Kingston, New Jersey

"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 his daughter Joan. Honors came to him quickly--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 WWII. 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.