Beryl Cook (1926-2008, British)

Beryl Cook and CatBeryl Cook (1926-2008, British) was a prolific painter and illustrator of everyday people doing everyday things. Known for her fat characters, she sometimes painted the shadier side of life, portraying prostitutes, nightclubs and gay bars. Her paintings that include cats are primarily of herself and her husband, or of family friends. Perhaps one of her most famous paintings is of the comic Rab C. Nesbitt with a cat in front of 10 Downing Street, which is now owned by a museum in Glasgow.

Even though she was widely popular with her works on stamps, school books , cards and even advertisements, she was never accepted by the British art establishment.  Instead, her works were highly criticized. Brian Sewell said of her art, “It doesn’t have the intellectual honesty of the Pig and Whistle. It has a kind of vulgar streak which has nothing to do with art.” Even so, her paintings were sought after by celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Jackie Collins, and some fetched as much as 20,000 pounds.

Cook was born in Egham, Surrey and did not complete any education after age 14. In 1948, she married John Cook who was in the merchant navy. After he retired, they lived in Rhodesia and Zambia for a time where Cook started painting.

After returning to the U.K., Cook held her first art exhibition in 1975 at the Plymouth Arts Centre. It was a great success and led to a write up in the Sunday Times. From 1976 on, she held exhibitions of her works at the Portal Gallery in London.

After receiving various awards, she was also presented with an OBE, but because of her extreme introversion and shyness, she did not attend the official ceremony in London. Instead, she accepted the honor at a smaller ceremony in Plymouth.

 

Beryl Cook, Larry the Cat at 10 Downing and Comic Nesbitt

Larry the Cat at 10 Downing and Comic Nesbitt

 

 

 

Beryl Cook - At the Refrigerator

At the Refrigerator

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Bunny and Nipper the Tabby Cat

Bunny and Nipper the Tabby Cat

 

 

 

Beryl Cook Rubys Wheels

Ruby’s Wheels

 

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Black and White Cat

Black and White Cat

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Black Cat

Black Cat

 

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Cat Lady Feeding the Cats

Cat Lady Feeding the Cats

 

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Cats Eyeing a Lobster, 1977

Beryl Cook, Cats Eyeing a Lobster, 1977

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Cedric the Cat

Cedric the Cat

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Couch Potatoes

Couch Potatoes

 

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Feeding the Tortoise with Siamese Cat Looking On

Feeding the Tortoise with Siamese Cat Looking On

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Felix Keeps on Walking

Felix Keeps on Walking

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Red Cat, Red Woman

Red Cat, Red Woman

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, Resting in the Garden with Black and White Cat

Resting in the Garden with Black and White Cat

 

 

 

 

Beryl Cook, The Milk Man and Woman with Cat

The Milk Man and Woman with Cat

 

Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature? Then this is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 

 

Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

 

 

 

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