b. 1773 in Yorkshire, England - d. 6 May 1846 in Saratoga Springs, NY; buried in Gideon Putnam Cemetery, Saratoga Springs; emigrated to the US with parents just after the Revolutionary War; credited by many with opening NYC's first soda fountain in 1819; understood the commercial potential of mineral water and in 1823 purchased the highly-regarded Congress Spring in Saratoga Springs; partnered with Thomas Lynch in 1826 to start the first mass-produced and extremely successful bottled water business in Saratoga Springs with distribution eventually throughout the US and in Europe; the water was marketed as "Lynch and Clarke, New York" until Lynch's 1833 death, at which time the bottles were embossed "John Clarke, New York" until Clarke's own death in 1846; in 1829 married the widow of NY attorney Charles White, Eliza Bryar White (1792-1869), who bore three children with Clarke in addition to the four from her first marriage; recognizing Saratoga Springs's tourist potential, co-founded the Saratoga & Schenectady Railroad in 1832, which eventually contributed to the town's prosperity; purchased and improved significant amounts of land in Saratoga Springs, including the development of the town's waterworks system in 1832; member of Saratoga Springs city council in 1841. This painting was on display in 2011 at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution as part of an exhibit featuring prominent portraits of Washington, D.C. families.
Signed verso "Susan English, born 11th Nov 1789, Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1845"; husband was David and they had at least two sons: C.D. English and R. English. Sold at auction via a floor sale on 3/9/08 in Fairfield, CT for $600 + a 20% buyer's commission. The auction house's pre-sale condition report said the following: "dirty, loose on stretcher, 3 holes, crazing, paint loss, wrinkles, but no earlier restoration."
b. 19 Mar 1764 at Exeter, Rhode Island - d. 26 Apr 1850 at Hoosick, NY (Rensselaer County); buried in Mapletown Cemetery, just east of Hoosick; son of Harper, Sr. and Mercy Rogers, who moved with Harper Jr. from Rhode Island to Washington County, NY sometime prior to the American Revolutionary War; took after his father and began farming in 1786 in Hoosick, where he lived the rest of his life; on 19 Jan 1786 married Susanna/Susan Barber (1764-1845) and produced 6 children; in 1789 served as one of several Hoosick poundkeepers, an important function for overseeing stray livestock until rightful owners could be located; successful, well-respected, and influential as a farmer, served in the NY State assembly as a Whig 1821-22. This 29" x 25" portrait is signed on reverse "Harper Rogers / Born 19th March 1764 / Painted by Nelson Cook / Saratoga Springs / 1845". This is a superbly crafted painting, which depicts a man of confidence and determination. While farmers, even successful ones, were a departure from the typical sort of sitter Nelson Cook was known to have painted, Cook still saw fit to place Mr. Rogers in one of the artist's trademark red seats. The portrait has been restored and wax lined on the reverse.
b. 4 Apr 1830, Saratoga Springs, NY - d. 13 Nov 1852, Saratoga Springs, NY; buried Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs; only child of Judge John Willard and Elizabeth Willard and wife of Henry Fowler (1824-1872), Presbyterian minister from Auburn, N Y. Sylvester's 1878 History of Saratoga County, New York described Sarah as "a young lady of rare beauty and culture"; signed by the artist on reverse, "Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1845"; a hand-written note on the painting's back also reads, "Susan Willard Fowler, daughter of Judge John Willard of Saratoga". Although Cook has not placed his young sitter in one of his patented red seats, the twin mountain peaks beyond her left shoulder appear in at least two other Cook portraits (see Unidentified Woman in Blue Gown and Portrait of a Girl. The 30" X 24" portrait was sold at auction by Millea Bros of Boonton, NJ for $527 (including a 24% buyer's premium) on May 23, 2014. The condition report stated the painting was "fair/poor, craquelure, scattered paint loss and flaking, especially to upper right." Soon after this sale the framed portrait was sold again by Scott Antique Market in Atlanta for $400. The new owner had both the painting and frame professionally restored and the portrait now proudly hangs in his Atlanta home. To the right is the painting before and after the restoration.
b. ca 1787, Stillwater, Saratoga County, NY - d. 28 Dec 1851, Troy, NY; direct descendant of Thomas Hooker, a founder of Connecticut; merchant (and mill owner?) in Whitehall, NY, after War of 1812; moved to Troy ca 1820, joined firm of Pattison & Hart, freight forwarders; operator of Troy Tow-Boat Line and the Troy and Whitehall Towing Company, moving freight on the Erie, Oswego, and Champlain Canals, Lake Champlain, and the Hudson River, employing over 1300 workers, some 150 boats, and 1000 horses; interest in steamboats on the Great Lakes; property holder in and around Troy; buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Troy. The portrait is dark and needs cleaning; the paint is cracking as well.
b. 1808 at Austerlitz (Columbia County), NY - d. Feb 1855 in Austerlitz, NY; buried Mallery Family Burying Ground in Austerlitz; son of Uriah Mallery and Elizabeth Utter; married Sarah Ann Sawyer sometime before 1844; operated a grocery business with brother in Troy, NY from at some point in 1830s until returning to Austerlitz family homestead in 1851 following death of father; elected Supervisor in Austerlitz and was instrumental in having the first school house built in town. This portrait and that of wife Sarah below are unsigned and undated, but a daguerreotype made from Anson's portrait carries the inscription "A. U. Mallery, taken from portrait, Troy NY, 1846". The caretakers of this site have attributed both portraits to Cook based on a strong similarity to the artist's characteristic technical elements, the artist's known presence in Troy in 1846 (see James Harvey Hooker), the sitter's red seat, and the distant landscape, which is reminiscent of many other Cook paintings. Although this attribution has been made, it should be noted that both portraits are painted on board rather than canvas, a technique for which there is no documented evidence that Cook ever used.
b. 1823 in Austerlitz (Columbia County), NY - d. 1913 in Stockbridge (Madison County), NY; buried Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, NY; daughter of William Sawyer and Esther Ann Utter; sometime before 1844 married Anson Uriah Mallery with whom she had four children; following Anson's death in 1855 married Charles Wadsworth in 1858 and then in 1868 married Allen Jacobia of Kinderhook, NY after Charles' 1866 death. This portrait and that of husband Anson above are unsigned and undated, but a daguerreotype made from Anson's portrait carries the inscription "A. U. Mallery, taken from portrait, Troy NY, 1846." The caretakers of this site have attributed both portraits to Cook based on a strong similarity to the artist's characteristic technical elements, the artist's known presence in Troy in 1846 (see James Harvey Hooker), the sitter's red seat, and the distant landscape, which is reminiscent of many other Cook paintings. Although this attribution has been made, it should be noted that both portraits are painted on board rather than canvas, a technique for which there is no documented evidence that Cook ever used.
b. 11 Sep 1786/89?, Rowley, MA - d. 16 Dec 1858; son of the Rev Ebenezer Bradford and said to be related to William Bradford of Plymouth; graduated Dartmouth College 1811; studied theology with uncle, the Rev Moses D. Bradford of Francestown, NH; ordained Sheffield Congregational Church 13 Oct 1813, serving there as pastor for nearly 39 years; during his ministry the church added over 500 members through vigorous revivals, Bible classes, the addition of a Sunday School, and expansion of the church structure; in 1814 an epidemic raged through Sheffield and had taken 56 lives when, it is said, local people prayed through the day in Bradford's church and stemmed the plague. This portrait and that of Mrs. Bradford are large ones in excellent condition; they are housed in the Dan Raymond House of the Sheffield Historical Society, Sheffield, MA. Cook signed and dated this portrait on the reverse side, as was typical, but added the notation "pinxit," in Latin "he painted this," atypical for him.
Courtesy of Sheffield (MA) Historical Society
b. 30 Apr 1786 - d. 25 Feb 1855; daughter of Daniel Flint of Reading, MA; m. James Bradford 15 Nov 1813; she bore seven children, four sons and three daughters; they built a home on Main Street in Sheffield, MA, known today as Staveleigh House and operated as a bed and breakfast. In Cook's portrait Mrs. Bradford is clothed in a dark, austere dress, creating a dark painting; however, her face framed in lace is remarkably detailed.
Courtesy of Sheffield (MA) Historical Society
b. Scituate, RI, 24 Feb 1787 - d. Albany, NY, 11 Feb 1844; grew up on family farm in Washington County, NY; admitted to the bar 1810; formed various law partnerships (Wissell Gansevoort; William Warren; Judiah Ellsworth); moved to Saratoga Springs in 1812; justice of the peace and town supervisor; appointed Circuit Judge (4th Circuit), 1828, to succeed Reuben H. Walworth, who had been appointed Chancellor; Associate Justice of the NY Supreme Court, 1836-1844; compiled several important legal treatises, one of which, Cowen and Hill's Notes, Vol I, is beside him in the portrait, along with Phillipp's Evidence; founded early temperance society; m. Betsey Berry Rogers (1811); it is said the Governor, both houses of the legislature "and a vast concourse of citizens" attended Cowen's funeral; buried Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs. Portrait attributed to Cook (relined with photos taken of original name (sig?)/Saratoga Springs and date of 1847); this date is three years after Cowen's death, perhaps explained as an error or a painting from a daguerreotype, but most likely a posthumous copy of Cowen's 1844 portrait. The only image available is the black and white one shown below. The Frick Collection provides the following description: "Blue eyes, white hair. Black coat, blue-black waistcoat, black stock and tie, white collar and shirt. Pinkish red chair. Pinkish red curtain in background. Calf-bound books with gold tooling and scarlet title labels."
b. Kortwright, NY (Delaware County), 4 Dec 1797 - d. Washington DC, 10 Jul 1872; buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown section of Washington DC; son of [John] Joseph Skinner and Phebe Bull Skinner, who died when St. John was only a few months old; half-brother of Eugene Franklin Skinner, founder of Eugene, OR; by 1809 living with family in Essex, NY, just south of Plattsburgh; attended Plattsburgh Academy and was one of 20 teenage boys from the school who in September 1814 formed Aiken's Volunteers and successfully helped defend the city against the 10,000-strong British army during the decisive Battle of Plattsburgh, which the undermanned Americans won due in part to the leadership of Major General Benjamin Mooers, who commanded the NY State Militia (in 1826 Congress conferred a rifle on each boy - only six of the "boys" were on hand for the presentation, including Skinner - just as the Battle of Plattsburgh field commander Brigadier General Alexander Macomb had promised each of them 12 years before --- the only time in US history that Congress ever awarded rifles to civilians for battle-tested "gallantry and patriotic services"); 16 Sep 1821 first marriage to General Mooers daughter, Phebe Maria Mooers (1800-1827) with whom he had three daughters and 8 Dec 1831 second marriage to Julia Lowry (1806-1902) of Burlington, VT; re-established his military involvement in the early 1820s and by 1839 was a Major General and commander of the 11th Infantry Division in NY State Militia at Plattsburgh when he exchanged letters with then NY Governor William H. Seward regarding two separate attacks by Canadian raiding parties on properties at Alburgh and Rouse's Point, VT --- as a safety precaution Seward in turn forwarded both letters to President Van Buren; earned his law degree, admitted to the NY Bar in 1821, and had a prominent and successful Plattsburgh law practice; served as Clinton County Justice of the Peace (1828), Clinton County Surrogate Judge (1831-1840) and Clinton County Clerk (1842-1845); distinguished Free Mason and Master (1849-1853) at Clinton Lodge in Plattsburgh along with fellow-Mason and friend Reuben Hyde Walworth; in 1834 was one of nine founders and trustees of The Plattsburgh Manufacturing Company engaged in the manufacture of woolen and cotton goods and machinery; in 1844 sold Dannemora, NY land and mine holdings totaling 200 acres to New York State for future home of Clinton County Prison, which was designed and built by Nelson Cook's brother, Ransom Cook; following an 1853 fire which destroyed his extensive law library, Skinner appointed to Post Office Department in Washington DC where he remained until his 1872 death while serving under five Presidents (Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant) as Chief Clerk and Assistant Postmaster General (1861-1872) including time as Acting Postmaster General under Lincoln in 1862 and as First Assistant Postmaster General under Grant 1869 - 1872; at time of death was President of the War of 1812 Veterans Association; according to Skinner's descendants, the General also participated in the Civil War; although not evident in the painting, at some point Skinner lost his right arm and according to family lore, the General would not allow the doctors to remove it until he had mastered use of his left arm and hand. The portrait is a classic Cook rendering, including the artist's customary red seat and the same distant mountainous background found in several other Cook paintings. In a hand other than Cook's, the reverse is inscribed "Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1847," which suggests it had some restorative work done at some point in the past and the restorer transferred the original inscription to the new backing.
b. Burlington, VT (Chittenden County), 20 Mar 1806 - d. Burlington, VT, 7 Dec 1902; buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown section of Washington DC; daughter of Heman Lowry (high sheriff of Chittenden County for 19 years and US Marshall for the district of Vermont for 11 years) and Margaret Campbell Lowry; 8 Dec 1831 became second wife of General St. John Bull Lawrence Skinner; no children. The portrait has all the hallmarks of Cook's artistry, including the sitter's red seat, the exquisite rendering of the lacework, and the distant view of mountains in the background. In a hand other than Cook's, the reverse is inscribed "Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1847," which suggests it had some restorative work done at some point in the past and the restorer transferred the original inscription to the new backing.
At one time identified as James K. Averill, the portrait is more likely that of his father, James Gill Averill, b. 28 May 1804, Flatbush, NY - d. 1881, Sand Lake, NY; buried in Sand Lake Union Cemetery; son of Revolutionary War surgeon Isaac and Hanna Miles Averill of Milford, CT; ca 1830 moved to Sand Lake, Rensselaer County, NY, and in 1827 married Clarissa Sliter (1809-1885); town merchant and tavern keeper; may be best known locally for leading Memorial Day parades on Moscow, a Civil War horse now buried at the foot of James's son, James Knox Averill (1846-1900), who was a lawyer, land developer, & railroad promoter (Troy & New England Railway), and along with his brother, Horatio, developed the town of Averill Park near Sand Lake. This 25.5" X 33.5" portrait was restored in the early 1990s at the University of Buffalo, NY. This is a classic Cook rendering with all the hallmarks of the artist's mid-19th century talents on display: an expressive and distinguished, well-modeled face, poorly-crafted, elongated fingers reminiscent of 16th century European Mannerism, the sitter placed in an upholstered red chair, and a distant landscape in the background. On July 25, 2020 the painting was sold at auction by J. James Auctioneers and Appraisers in Plymouth, MA for $450.
b. 14 Jan 1808 at Greenfield (Saratoga County), NY - d. 15 May 1873 in Saratoga Springs, NY; buried in Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs; son of a Quaker sea captain from New Bedford, MA; in 1836 married Aurelia Ann Putnam (1813-1894), granddaughter of Gideon Putnam, revered founder of Saratoga Springs and niece of Nancy Putnam; studied medicine in Finger Lakes town of Skaneateles, NY and then graduated from Fairfield Medical College in Fairfield, NY; taught for a time, then went to Saratoga Springs in 1832 and for the next six years practiced medicine with Dr. John H. Steel; continued in the pursuit of medicine while also serving as Postmaster of Saratoga County during President Martin Van Buren's administration; also wrote several books about the therapeutic value and curative powers of Saratoga Springs' water and produced a guide book for tourists to his fair city; very active in the National Medical Association of the United States and the NY State Medical Society, both of which he served as President for the Saratoga County chapters; in 1852 partnered with Dr. Myron N. Babcock as Allen and Babcock, which became a very large and successful practice; well known and respected in Saratoga Springs for his kindness and philanthropy. Although the portrait is in need of major restoration, this is a wonderful example of Cook's mid-career artistry, including his "patented" red chair. This is believed to be the only portrait Cook is known to have signed and dated on both the front and back, and in each case used the word "Pinxt," Latin for "painted it." The painting is 32" X 26".
b. ? - d. ?; painting acquired by state of New York in 2004 as part of the Bailey-Deyo Family Collection, consisting of among other things two Cook portraits presumably of Bailey family members; General Samuel Baily (without the "e") of Greenfield, NY (5 miles from Saratoga Springs) served with Washington during the Revolutionary War; the below faded image on the left is prior to conservation, while the image on the right shows the restored portrait with richer, but more somber colors; the painting's mostly dark hues, the sitter's melancholy stare, and her black, unadorned dress all suggest a woman in mourning; this sad tone is further reinforced by the wilted flowers in the vase, a common 19th century artistic symbol of death; although unidentified, the sitter may be Charity ("Cherry") Bailey (1809-1903), wife of Samuel Bailey (the general's son, who spelled his name with the "e") and mother of five children, including Ruby M. Bailey (2/9/1848 - 3/30/1848), whose untimely death at the age of 7 weeks coincides with the year of the painting's creation and which may help establish the sitter's identity as the baby's grieving mother; the portrait is signed "Painted by N. Cook" at the lower right; as indicated by Cook's inscription on the painting's reverse, the portrait was done from a daguerreotype, which may explain the unlocked case atop the sideboard ---a case for the daguerreotype Cook has used as the model for his painting; and of course Cook made sure to place the sitter in one of his signature, yet somewhat subdued, red upholstered seats. See Portrait of a Child. For more on this painting see Preserving Nelson Cook's Legacy.)
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