John de Critz the Elder, A Member of the Cooke Family

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
A Member of the Cooke Family
The Music Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 97 cm, Overall width: 81 cm
John de Critz the Elder (1551/2-1642)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed top right: ‘1597 æta 23,’


The coat of arms in the upper left of the picture identifies the sitter as a member of the Cooke family of Gidea (or Geddy) Hall1: Or a chevron checky azure and gules, between three cinquefoils of the second. At the tip of the chevron there is a mark of cadency denoting that this is the second son. This painting can be attributed on stylistic grounds to John de Critz the Elder, an artist who did not routinely emblazon his portraits with the coats of arms of his sitters.

It is difficult to identify which member of the Cooke family this might be. The Cookes owed their wealth to the fortune of Sir Thomas Cooke, a draper and lord mayor of London. Sir Thomas’s descendant, Anthony, was a humanist and religious reformer who served as tutor to Edward VI and to his own daughters, one of whom married Sir William Cecil, another Sir Nicholas Bacon (by which means the Cookes were related to the Townshends). Sir Anthony had two sons, Richard (by 1530–1579) and William. In turn Richard also only had one son, Anthony (1559–1604) whose life dates do not correspond to those given in the inscription on this painting and must be original.

It is possible that the sitter is one of the four sons of Sir William Cooke (d. 1589). William Cooke (1572–1619) of Gray’s Inn and Highnam Court, Gloucestershire was the eldest surviving son but the mark of cadency indicates that this portrait depicts his younger brother, Edward.

by Edward Town


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, vol. 2, p. 224, no. 5, illus. opp. p. 224 [‘MR. COOKE’]


  1. Marjorie K. McIntosh, ‘The Fall of a Tudor Gentle Family: The Cookes of Gidea Hall, Essex, 1579–1629’, Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 4, August, 1978, pp. 279–97.


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