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Jean Cooke RA, Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass, 1960

Jean Cooke RA (1927 - 2008)

RA Collection: Art

This painting was made in Jean Cooke RA’s home in Blackheath where she lived with her husband, the artist John Bratby RA (1928 – 1992). It may have been painted in the bedroom that Bratby let her use as a studio after he deemed it too dangerous to sleep in; the ceiling was unstable and parts had started to fall down.

The painting shows several flowerpots with plants in full and vibrant bloom, almost filling the canvas. At the time, Cooke had a passion for flowers, particularly pansies. She “painted each like a portrait” and could not resist including a small depiction of herself reflected in the mirror through the foliage. The tortoise in the foreground belonged to a neighbour but had strolled into Cooke’s garden.

Works like this focussing on everyday domestic subjects characterise Cooke’s artistic output. She was part of the post-War movement in British art that reflected the austerity and commonplace nature of life. Cooke was also a prolific self-portraitist, finding it a useful method of self-expression. This is one of three self-portraits by Cooke in the Royal Academy’s Collection.

Object details

Through the Looking Glass
Jean Cooke RA (1927 - 2008)
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

608 mm x 508 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Bequeathed by Carel Weight RA 1999
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