Portraits Attributed to Cook:
The New York Years (ca 1839-1892)

(NOTE: Portraits are listed by date of completion if known; if date unknown, portrait is listed at the end of this section. Use links to move between related sites within and beyond this website.)

Thomas Jefferson Marvin (1839?) (Union College Collection)
(b. Malta, NY 26 June 1803, d. Havana, Cuba 29 Dec 1852. This is an impressive portrait of a man with whom we are clearly expected to be impressed. Marvin graduated Union College class of 1824 or 1826 & then studied law; elected 1833 to Legislative Assembly & later served as a judge on the Saratoga County Court; served as Postmaster for Saratoga Springs during Tyler & Polk administrations; started first bank at Saratoga with brother, James M. Marvin, and in 1835 procured the first charter in NY State for a fire insurance company upon the mutual plan; m. Harriet Fraser, 8 Feb 1837. With this portrait, ostensively done soon after his return to the USA, Cook shows that he has left Lemuel Dickinson and Parrit Blaisdell far behind and has skillfully mastered the standard artistic conventions for painting a person of prominence: the strongly modeled face, the regal pose, the classical background with roseate sky, the index finger in the book. In fact, although signed on lower back right "Painted by Nelson Cook/Saratoga Spa/1839," the artistic sophistication achieved by Cook here is more consistent with the more mature style the artist exhibited ten years later [see Payn Bigelow (1849) and Hannah Bigelow (1849)]. This may be indicative of the special care Cook took when crafting Marvin's portrait or perhaps more likely an incorrect date was assigned by a conservator. Regardless, Marvin's likeness is what has been called the "ultimate extravagance": portraitists of the day often set their fees based on the pose, from the "low end" of a simple bust, to a bust with one hand displayed, to, as here, a seated portrait with both hands showing. This painting came to Union College through Hiram C. Todd, with the State Attorney General's office and former chairman of the Board of Trustees who lived in Marvin's home in Saratoga; the selling of the home and dispersal of its contents in 1944 brought Cook's handsome portrait to Union, where Marvin's daughter, Mrs. Louise Sackett, had earlier established several funds in her father's name. The portrait is oil on canvas with dimensions of 36X21.)


Courtesy of the Union College Permanant Collection.

James Merrill Cook (1840) (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(b. Ballston Spa, NY, 19 Nov 1807 - d. Saratoga Springs, NY, 12 Apr 1868; buried Ballston Spa (NY) Village Cemetery; son of Judge Samuel Cook of Berkshire County, MA (apparently no relation to artist); financier; held a number of local offices; Democrat turned Whig (ca 1836); delegate to State Constitutional Convention of 1846; State Senator (1848-51, 1864-65), State Treasurer (1853), State Comptroller (1854-55), State Banking Department head (1856-61); withdrew his name for consideration as Republican governor of NY (1858); commissioner of the Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad when chartered in 1832, a founder and president of Ballston Spa Bank, major general in State Militia; m. Elizabet (sp?) Ann Barnum (1809-1831) of Ballston Spa and distant relation to PT Barnum, 1829; second wife Anna Cady. This work marks a clear departure from the artist's early Canadian portraits: Flat "primitive" backgrounds give way to billowing clouds and a theatrical Greek column, simple clothing becomes formal gentleman's attire, complete with velvet lapels, walking stick and high hat; Cook shows off his increasing skill by foreshortening the inside of his subject's hat in foreground, but a Metropolitan Museum critic takes him to task for poor differentiation of textures and the "tubular quality" of his forms. Inscription on back, apparently added by conservator after lining, reads "Painted by Nelson Cook/Ballston Spa/1840".)


Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Anna Cady Cook (1840) (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
(b. ca 1809 - d. 18 Feb 1860; buried Ballston Spa (NY) Village Cemetery; only daughter of Shuler Cady and Catharine Phillips Cady of Florida, NY; second wife of James Merrill Cook, m. 1833 at 12th Street Presbyterian Church, NYC; mother of three children, spent her married life at home in Ballston Spa, NY. This painting and that of her husband were used to illustrate The Book of Costume by Millia Davenport (1948), which says that Anna's attire shows a "slight provincial time lag" in fashion, to be seen in her "neck and sleeves and coarse mesh net and lace morning dress. Hair looped above the line of the ears in the simplest way of the 30's. Good band of deep lace...has been pleated together in a fan to give it play." This companion piece to her husband's echoes the mood of the latter with a Greek column in the background, a bonnet in hand in the foreground; her attire is carefully detailed, "often a hallmark of the self-taught painter," says the Metropolitan Museum critic. Inscribed on the back by conservator after lining: "Painted by Nelson Cook/Ballston Spa/1840".)


Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Little Dandy (1840) (Shelburne Museum, Vermont)
(b. ca. 1835 - d. ?; unidentified boy with his dog. Although we know Cook completed portraits of at least 15 infants and children with or without their parents, this is the only Cook portrait known to exist depicting a live animal. The artist has shown the young boy in all his grown-up finery, including a hat and walking stick, making it easy to see how the painting got its name. Cook also has skillfully captured the small dog lovingly and loyally looking back up at his master as if to say, "Play time!" Although a chair appears in the background, it is not Cook's customary red chair. Instead, it would appear the artist has used a red drapery in the window as his accent piece for this particular rendering. The painting was shown in late 1960 at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY for an exhibit entitled "Art Across America" with other 18th and 19th century artists, including John Singleton Copley and Thomas Cole, as well as modernists; the program from that exhibit reads: "Painted in Saratoga Springs..., this little boy with his fluffy dog is a very symbol of 19th-century elegance." The portrait is 60 1/2" by 43 1/4" and is signed on the reverse under a relined canvas: "Painted by Nelson Cook / Saratoga Springs / 1840.")


© Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont

Reuben Hyde Walworth (1840) (Historical Society of Saratoga Springs)
(b. Bozrah, CT, 26 Oct 1788, - d. Saratoga Springs, 27 Nov 1867; studied law under John Russell of Troy, NY; admitted to bar in 1809; opened law office in Plattsburgh in 1810, where he became a Master in Chancery; participated in War of 1812 as Adjutant General and as Division Judge Advocate; elected to US Congress, 1821-23; appointed 4th Circuit Judge by Gov. Yates, 1823; appointed (last New York) Chancellor 1828-1848; nominated 1844 for US Supreme Court by President Tyler, but, alienating Whig politico Thurlow Weed, was not confirmed; unsuccessful candidate for NY State Governor, 1848; President American Temperance Union [Walworth County, Wisconsin named to honor this work]; VP American Bible Society; LL.D.; advocate of conciliation and peace during Civil War; College of NJ [Princeton, 1835]; Yale [1839]; Harvard [1846]; married twice: Maria Ketchum Averill, 1812, and [Mrs.] Sarah Ellen Smith Hardin, April 16, 1851, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky [see Ellen Hardin Walworth]. Exhibited at National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, 1843, catalog #212. The Walworth family engaged the portrait services of Cook for some 18 years [see family members below].)


Courtesy Historical Society of Saratoga Springs, acc # W-70-13

Maria Ketchum Averill Walworth (1841) (Historical Society of Saratoga Springs)
(b. 31 Dec 1795, Plattsburgh, NY - d. 24 Apr 1847, Saratoga Springs, NY; eldest child of Nathan Averill, Jr., at one time in the transportation business and a Plattsburgh landowner, and Polly (Mary?) Ketchum Averill; first wife of Reuben Hyde Walworth, m. 16 Jan 1812 in Plattsburgh, NY; mother of six children. Portrait signed verso "Painted by Nelson Cook. Saratoga Springs. 1841"; this and the portrait of her husband are located in the Walworth Museum, The Canfield Casino, Saratoga.)


Courtesy Historical Society of Saratoga Springs, acc # W-70-14

Unidentified Woman (1841?) (Location Unknown)
(Described as a full length portrait of a one-time resident of Saratoga; she wears a blue silk dress with blonde lace at wrists and neck and is described as having a "determined and reflective expression"; in urging readers to visit Cook's studio, the commentator refers to the painting as an "exquisite work of Art" suggesting "the near approach of Art to Nature." Noted in the Saratoga Whig, 25 May 1841.)

Judge Halsey Rogers (1843) (Private Collection?)
(b. 17 March 1783 - d. 29 June 1857; buried in Rogers family plot, Moreau, NY; active Democratic politician (his right hand is on a book, Democratic Review, in this portrait); m. Deborah Wing (12 Dec 1782- 20 March 1856); lived in Moreau, Saratoga County, NY; parents of Mary Ann (1803 - ?) and George (1814-1822). Unlike most of Cook's portraits [but see Millard Powers Fillmore], Judge Rogers is a full length pose, not sitting, with the painting measuring 6'2" tall by 3', yet even at that size The Frick Collection states that "a foot or so" has been cut from the height and width. The frontal pose, direct gaze, formal attire, skillful modeling, and deep background colors convey a sense of authority. [See Mrs. Esek Cowen and Abby Rogers Fort])

Gentleman and Child (1843) (Presumably private collection, location unknown)
(Noted by the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) as having been sold at auction by C. G. Sloan & Co. Further research five years later in support of the Nelson Cook web site yielded an undated Cook painting entitled Father and Child, which is shown below. This charming portrait was auctioned by Christie's for $4,600 in New York on 16 June 1999. It is oil on canvas and measures 43X37. While it is difficult to ascertain if this is the same 1843 painting cited by the Smithsonian, its style and facial features are extremely reminiscent of the artist's 1840 portraits of James Merrill Cook and Anna Cady Cook leading one to believe that if this is not the same painting, it was at least painted at about the same time or perhaps several years earlier.)


Mar Yohannan (1843) (Location unknown)
(b. ? - d. 1874; buried in a place of honor at the Church of Mart Maryam in Urmia, Persia; a Nestorian Christian Bishop of Urmia; first to welcome Justin Perkins, a Presbyterian missionary in Persia 1834-1869; taught Perkins and colleagues the Assyrian culture, language, & religious beliefs and provided unwavering support to the missionaries for many years; key legacy was establishing schools in Persia; visited the US 1843 with Perkins. In all likelihood Mar Yohannan actually sat for his portrait in Saratoga Springs, which the Bishop is known to have visited during his US stay. According to a passage in William Stone's Reminiscences of Saratoga and Ballston: "[Chancellor Reuben Hyde Walworth's Pine Grove home in Saratoga Springs] has known the portly form of Joseph Bonaparte in tights, and the squat figure of Mar Yohannan in multitudinous folds of cloth." In fact, Cook painted two portraits of the Bishop - the 25X30 original was said to have been in Saratoga as late as 1885, and a duplicate accompanied Mar Yohannan back to Persia.)

Portrait of a Lady (1843) (Location unknown)
(Noted by Historical Society of Saratoga Springs.)

Portrait of a Young Girl (1843?) (Private collection, location probably New York State)
(This portrait surfaced from a Saratoga Springs institution, which opted to discontinue the use of antiques as part of its decor. When sold in July 2008 by Cherry Tree Auctions for $550, the auctioneer attributed the portrait to Nelson Cook, who may very well have been the artist. However, the painting's front inscription reads "Painted by Cook 1843" (see bottom right) using a handwriting style and serpentine shape that is uncharacteristic of Cook's normal, more embellished signature, which also usually included his first name or the letter "N." for Nelson. It's conceivable the original inscription on the reverse was lost during restoration at some point and the conservator simply added Cook's name and date to the painting's front. Unlike Cook's darker images of adult sitters from the early 1840s, this painting makes use of brighter, pastel-like colors, which may have been Cook's way of conveying a child's sense of carefree innocence. But perhaps most telling as to whether or not this is truly a Cook, if you look very closely at the painting's lower right corner, you can see the faint hint of Cook's trademark red chair. Interestingly, this painting is reminiscent of his later portraits of the Walworth family children [see The Walworth Children (1858)]. Could this be yet another Walworth child painted soon after Chancellor and Mrs. Walworth's 1841 portraits?)


Esek Cowen (1844) (Court of Appeals, Albany)
(The first of two portraits of this noted jurist attributed to Cook; this one is signed, right below center; painted at Saratoga Springs. To view Cook's 1844 portrait of Cowen or a close copy of that portrait, click here. This portrait is displayed as one of dozens of prominent NY jurists in the strikingly handsome, paneled, Appeals courtroom; the portraits are of generally uniform sizes and framed by the paneling. Building records note that the painting was reduced somewhat, perhaps to make it the proper size; the artist's name verso was cut to "N. O." say the records, although it is probable that the "C" in Cook was misread. Trimming the canvas might explain why this Cowen version lacks the breadth of background, including law books, found in the posthumous (?) copy (?) of 1847 held by the Connecticut Historical Society. [See below.])

The Honorable Henry Walton (1844) (Location unknown)
(b. 8 Oct 1768, New York City - d. 15 Sep 1844, New York City; born into a prominent colonial family, Walton was schooled in England, returning to New York for legal training, initially with Aaron Burr; moved to Ballston (Nelson Cook's hometown) in 1790 and became the county surrogate (1794-1808); moved between Albany and New York, but returned to Saratoga Springs ca 1820 and built a large home, "Wood Lawn," on a huge inherited tract of land; he practiced law, became one of the incorporators (1831) of the Saratoga & Schenectady Railroad Co. (directed to lay track through Ballston Spa), and excavated and "tubed" a number of the mineral springs for which Saratoga is known; active in the Episcopal Church, "Judge Walton" was buried in the family vault in Trinity Church yard, New York, apparently passing away soon after his portrait. Exhibited at National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, 1844, catalog #109.)

Ransom Cook (1844) (Location unknown)
(b. ca 1795 - d. 28 May 1881?, Saratoga Springs; apparently painted twice by his younger brother, Nelson. Known as a craftsman, inventor, and prison warden; came (from nearby Ballston?) to Saratoga Springs, then "mostly a piney grove," in 1813 as a journeyman furniture maker and over the years opened several shops in town where he made chairs, bedsteads, etc., often stenciled; served as town trustee for several years (1830s); said by the Chronicles of Saratoga to have made 21 significant inventions; worked with Thomas Davenport, inventor of an "electric motor;" commissioned by the State (1842) to survey mineral wealth in northern NY, and as a result recommended prison site in Clinton County (Dannemora) where prisoners could offset their cost by mining and manufacturing iron; appointed first warden (ca 1845-48), Cook built the prison with convict labor, utilized some of his own industrial inventions, and established Dannemora's industrial base; despite using electric shocks on disobedient convicts, Cook established a reputation as a reforming warden who removed shackles from prisoners and insisted they be treated kindly; alas, the ore ran out and the prison became a costly burden for the State; married daughter of Robert Ayres, associated with notorious Jane McCrea murder during Revolution; buried in Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga, where he designed the unique, seashell-shaped family gravestone [see photo in the Nelson Cook Biography]. Portraits noted by the Historical Society of Saratoga Springs. The 1844 portrait was exhibited at the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, in that year, cat # 336.)

Nancy Putnam (1844) (Location unknown)
(This portrait came to light by way of a brief mention in Samuel Chamberlain's 1950 book "Salem [MA] Interiors: Two Centuries of New England Taste and Decoration," which contains a photograph of the 1781 Sanderson House dining room with a portrait identified as that of "Nancy Putnam" by Nelson Cook hung above the sideboard. May be Mrs. Ferdinand/Frederick (Nancy Putnam) Andrews, who had ties to both Saratoga Springs and Salem; b. ca. 1797 in Saratoga Springs - d. 10 Jan 1869 in Saratoga Springs; buried Green Ridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs; daughter of Gideon Putnam (1764-1812) and Doanda Risley (1766-1835), originally of the Salem, Mass area and among the first developers of Saratoga Springs upon their 1789 arrival. Gideon was a successful landowner and lumberman, who also built the Union Hall Hotel, the Congress Hall Hotel, and “tubed” several popular springs for public use; in 1814 Nancy married grocer Ferdinand (sometimes Frederick) Andrews (ca. 1794 - ?) and she bore 4 children from ca. 1818 to ca. 1821; Nancy and the children continually appear in Saratoga Springs census records through 1860, but Ferdinand is absent after 1820; in early 1823 a “Ferdinand Andrews” takes over publication of the Salem Gazette and remains active in Massachusetts newspaper & book publishing until at least 1852; it is not known if this is the husband of Nancy Putnam and, if so, what their domestic arrangement might have been.)

John Clarke (1845) (Private Collection, Chevy Chase, MD)
(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.)


Susan English (1845) (Private Collection)
(Signed verso "Susan English, born 11th Nov 1789, Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1845". 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.")

Harper Rogers (1845) (Private Collection, location unknown)
(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.)

James Harvey Hooker (1846) (Private Collection)
(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.)

Anson Uriah Mallery (1846) (Private collection, Location unknown)
(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.)

Mrs. Anson (Sarah Ann Sawyer) Mallery (1846) (Private collection, Location unknown)
(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.)

Rev James Bradford (1847) (Sheffield Historical Society)
(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

Mrs. James (Margaret Flint) Bradford (1847) (Sheffield 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

Esek Cowen (1847) (Connecticut 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. To view Cook's 1844 portrait of Cowen or a close copy of that portrait, click here.)

James G. Averill (?) (1848) (Private Collection)
(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, b. 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, andin 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 with his owner; son James Knox Averill (1846-1900), lawyer, land developer, and railroad promoter (Troy & New England Railway) along with his brother Horatio developed the town of Averill Park near Sand Lake. This portrait was restored in the early 1990s in Buffalo; s., d. verso. Note the landscape background, relatively rare in Cook's portraits [see Millard Powers Fillmore].)

Richard L. Allen, M.D. (1848) (Private collection, Washington state)
(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".)


Portrait of a Young Woman (1848) (New York State Museum, Albany, NY)
(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.)


Lydia White Jones (1849) (Onondaga Historical Association)
(b. ca 1778 -d. 1859. Mother of Dr. Daniel T. Jones, mother-in-law of Eliza Jones. Born in Connecticut, married Daniel Jones, Jr., and had three children.)

Eliza Lawrence Jones (1849) (Onondaga Historical Association)
(b. 31 May 1812 in Onondaga County, NY - d. 15 Dec 1902 in Baldwinsville, NY; oldest daughter of Judge James R. Lawrence and Christy McLaren Lawrence; attended "The Hive," a Quaker school in Skaneateles, NY, and then the Homer and Onondaga Academies; graduated 1829 from the Hartford Female Seminary, CT; in 1841 married Dr. Daniel Terryll Jones (17 Aug 1800 - 29 Mar 1861); while living in Washington DC got to know the likes of President Fillmore, Sam Houston, General Winfield Scott, Charles Dickens, and William Thackeray; buried in Riverview Cemetery, Baldwinsville, NY; husband Daniel born in Hebron, CT, graduated from Yale (1826); he moved to Amboy, NY to practice medicine, later to Baldwinsville, where he was an early Postmaster; elected to US House of Representatives as a Democrat (1850, 1852); Eliza and Daniel lived in Washington during his two terms; he did not run again in 1854 and resumed practice of medicine in Baldwinsville; chaired Republican State Convention in Syracuse (1858); Daniel died in Baldwinsville, buried Riverview Cemetery. [See Lydia Jones])

Payn Bigelow (1849) (Private collection, Florida)
(b. 6 Oct 1814 at Fort Miller, NY - d. 2 Sep 1893; son of Otis and Mary [Payn] Bigelow; married Hannah Munro 27 Oct 1841 and produced 11 children; well-respected businessman who resided in Baldwinsville, NY [Onondaga County, NW of Syracuse]; in 1874 named President of Oswego & Onondaga Fire Insurance Company of Phoenix, NY and sometime after 1875 appointed the second President of Baldwinsville State Bank; in late 1870s owned a grist mill in the Baldwinsville area; also in 1850 very first member initiated into Baldwinsville’s Seneca River Lodge #160 Ancient and Free Accepted Masons, a lodge which is still in existence today. This painting is characterized by Cook’s trademark red seat, and the waist-length pose indicates the sitter was a man of means. This portrait is signed on reverse “Painted by Nelson Cook. Saratoga Spgs. 1849.” The 1849 date is significant in that Cook was commissioned by at least two other sitters from rural Baldwinsville during this same year [see Lydia White Jones (1849) and Eliza Lawrence Jones (1849)]. Cook’s success in Baldwinsville at this time may have given Cook the impetus he needed to head further west in New York State from 1851 – 1856 in search of other portrait patrons in more heavily populated Rochester and Buffalo.)

Mrs. Payn (Hannah Munro) Bigelow (1849) (Private collection, Florida)
(b. 25 Jan 1823 - d. 24 Mar 1902; daughter of David and Abigail [Carpenter] Munro; married Payn Bigelow 27 Oct 1841 and produced 11 children; in 1870 elected President of the Female Charitable Society of Baldwinsville, founded in 1817 and considered to be the oldest purely women's association in the country and still active today. As with her husband's companion portrait, this painting also shows a hint of Cook's characteristic red seat. This portrait is signed on reverse "N. Cook, Pinxit [Latin for "he painted this"] 1849.")

Unidentified Gentleman (1849) (Private Collection, Tennessee)
(b. ? - d. ?. Though the sitter is unidentified, this wonderfully crafted portrait is respectfully known as "The Barron" by its past and current owners. The painting has been beautifully restored and possesses all the hallmarks of a classic, mid-century Cook portrait: superb artistry, a red chair, a book alluding to the sitter's profession placed on a table in the foreground, and tubular, Daliesque fingers. The painting changed hands in 1998 when it was sold for $2,300.)

Mrs. Margaret Miller Davidson (ca 1840s) (Location unknown)
(b. 1787 - d. 1844; also known as Mary; originally from Duchess County, NY; wife of Dr. Oliver Davidson of Plattsburgh, NY and later Saratoga, NY and mother of nine, mostly sickly, children, including well-respected and internationally-famous poets Lucretia Maria Davidson and Margaret Miller Davidson (who shared her mother’s name) and lesser-known writer of verse, Levi P. Davidson; writer of fiction and the direct inspiration (e.g., she introduced daughter Margaret to Washington Irving) for three of her children to engage in writing. Although Cook’s original portrait of Mrs. Davidson has not been located, the below Rawdon, Wright, & Hatch engraving based on Cook’s painting appeared in Graham's Magazine in 1849. Interestingly however, an undated (c. 1885) newspaper article noted that a steel plated copy of Cook's portrait of Mrs. Davidson was in the artist's Saratoga Springs studio. The anonymous author of what appears to be a posthumous article for Graham's apparently knew little of Mrs. Davidson’s background other than to write: "The biographer conveys no more than a just idea of the loveliness of the picture here presented to view." Interestingly, Edgar Allan Poe was the first editor of Graham's Magazine in 1841. However, despite such distinctive contributors to the publication as Poe himself, William Cullen Bryant, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and James Russell Lowell, Poe quit the periodical in 1842 because he disapproved of Graham's desire to include "namby-pamby" fashion plates and sentimental engravings.)


[Special note re the below Davidson sisters: A May 25, 1841 Saratoga Whig newspaper article stated that portraits of the renowned Davidson sisters were on exhibit at Cook’s Saratoga studio. The article also added this intriguing note about the paintings of the deceased sisters: "The semblance of those 'golden bowls broken at the Fountain,' and now continually 'mirrored in Time's stream,' was rescued from far-off Forgetfulness by the fair hand of the accomplished lady of Mr. Cook."  And then nearly 50 years later an April 25, 1890 retrospective mention in the Plattsburgh Sentinel newspaper also said Mrs. Cook had painted the Davidson girls. Based on these two references it appears very probable that Nelson’s wife, Esther, was herself a portrait painter during her husband’s early career. But still unclear is exactly when these portraits were made. Given Lucretia’s 1825 death, in all likelihood she was painted posthumously. But Margaret could have sat for her portrait sometime between 1833 and 1838 during a Cook visit to Saratoga from Canada, or perhaps she too was painted after her death.]

Lucretia Maria Davidson (date?) (Location unknown)
(b. 27 Sep 1808 in Plattsburgh, NY - d. 27 Aug 1825 in Plattsburgh, NY; daughter of Dr. Oliver Davidson and fiction writer Margaret Miller Davidson and older sister of Margaret Miller Davidson; a gifted child who crafted her first known poem, Epitaph on a Robin, when only 9; briefly attended the Emma Willard School in Troy before dying of consumption (tuberculosis); nearly 300 poems survive from her short lifetime. In 1829, prior to his development of the telegraph and the Morse Code, renowned painter Samuel F. B. Morse published a collection of Davidson’s poems along with one of his sketches. Also in 1829 Robert Southey wrote a biography of Davidson, which was especially complimentary of the poet’s beauty and writing. However, Edgar Allan Poe felt the quality of Davidson’s work did not live up to the quality of her “poetic soul.”)

Margaret Miller Davidson (date?) (Location unknown)
(b. 26 Mar 1823 in Plattsburgh, NY - d. 25 Nov 1838 in Saratoga Springs, NY; daughter of Dr. Oliver Davidson and fiction writer Margaret Miller Davidson and younger sister of Lucretia Maria Davidson; strongly encouraged by her mother to fill the poetic void left by her sister’s untimely death, which resulted in a talented child, who at age 10 penned in two days time a dramatic play entitled The Tragedy of Alethia; died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the age of 15. As a young girl, Margaret was introduced by her mother to Washington Irving, who in 1841 posthumously honored Margaret with a biography.)

Mrs. Jesse (Phebe Hawxhurst) Field (1850) (Gold Coast Antique Auctions Gallery, Flowood, MS)
(b. 8 Mar 1768, Rye (Westchester County), NY - d. 31 May 1852, Ledyard (Cayuga County), NY; buried Field-Howland Cemetery in Ledyard; daughter of Seaman Hawxhurst and Dinah/Dianah Carpenter Hauxhurst; on 18 May 1784 married Jesse Field from Harrison/Purchase (Westchester County), NY and they had 4 children (Richard, Rebecca, Sarah, and Deborah); c. 1814 the Fields left Westchester County and settled in Cayuga County; an influential and prominent minister of the Orthodox Society of Friends (Quakers), who was well respected in central New York state for her preaching and charitability. This painting is a superb example of Cook's mid-career artistic craftsmanship --- not only are Phebe's facial features and flesh tones meticulously rendered, but so too are the folds and texture of her clothing. And the delicacy of her lace cap is exquisitely painted. As noted in other early 1850s portraits, Cook has abandoned his sitter's characteristic red seat and has placed Phebe in a more subdued yellow chair. [See The Pittses (1853) in their green seats.] The portrait is signed on reverse by the artist: "Portrait of Phebe Field. Aged 82. Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., 1850." Other inscriptions appear on the back of the canvas presumably added later by Humphry Howland, who apparently commissioned the portrait, or by William Howland, who eventually took possession of the painting: "Phebe Field, Nee Hawxhurst, Born 8th 3rd mo. 1768, Died 31st 5th mo. 1852, for Humphry Howland." And running up the right canvas stretcher as viewed from reverse: "This portrait is the property of William Howland." Humphry (also Humphrey) Howland (1780-1862) was Phebe's son-in-law, having married Phebe's daughter, Sarah, in 1811. As a young man, he was a surveyor in central NY for wealthy NYC landowners, and in the process acquired large tracts of land of his own. In 1812 he was a member of the NY State Assembly from Cayuga County, after which he became a successful merchant in the same area for the next 50 years. William Penn Howland, who is mentioned on the stretcher as the owner of Phebe's portrait, was Humphry's and Sarah's son.)


Millard Powers Fillmore, An American Sportsman (ca 1850) (Genesee Country Village and Museum, NY)
(b. 25 Apr 1828 in Aurora, NY - d. 15 Nov 1889 in Buffalo, NY; only son of the President; lawyer & father's personal secretary in White House, 1850-53; attended Harvard. The brochure of the Museum indicates that this life-size (79X56.25") painting -- apparently oil on mattress ticking -- is an early instance of an American depicted as a sportsman, vs a "pioneer"; Fillmore leans on a double-barreled percussion cap shotgun; his powder horn is of a glass made in western New York, and he has a leather holder for two different kinds of shot; the background is said to be Point Gratiot at Dunkirk on the south shore of Lake Erie. This portrait, exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Oct-Nov 1967), differs from most of the artist's known works in that the subject is placed in a landscape [but see James G. Averill] ; while the painting is not mentioned in the Cook correspondence in Saratoga or in the NY State Archives in Albany (unusual for Cook, since the subject's father was a known political figure), his letters do make it clear that he very much wanted to be a landscapist. In the early 1850s Cook was working in the Rochester /Buffalo area; Dunkirk is some 40 miles west of Buffalo. As an interesting side note, it would appear this portrait has another unique distinction beyond its depiction of Millard Powers Fillmore as a sportsman. While researching the use of glass powder horns in 18th and 19th century America, Jane Shadel Spillman (Curator of American Glass, Corning Museum of Glass) underscored their rarity by observing in 2004 that this is the only painting she has ever encountered that shows a hunter with a glass powder horn.)


Courtesy of the John L. Wehle Gallery of Wildlife and Sporting Art, Genesee Country Village and Museum, acc #G. 79

Mrs. Joseph (Mary Ann Tolman) Cook (1851) (Location unknown)
(b. 30 Nov 1774, Guilford, MA - d. 4 Apr 1860; Cook's mother; portrait noted in an undated (c. 1885) newspaper article as one of several paintings in Cook's Saratoga Springs studio.)

Portrait of a Young Girl (1851) (Private Collection, Auckland, New Zealand)
(The identity of the sitter is unknown; the oil portrait is an oval approx 16"x20"; it is said to have been relined, although the back appears original with the script certainly Cook's: "Painted by N. Cook Rochester 1851" [his signature is somewhat less ornate here than that developed by 1854 -- see A Closer Look]; it is possible, though unlikely, that this "young girl" is the Portrait of a Woman, 1851 noted by SIRIS. This framed portrait was purchased in January 2006 for $680.)

Portrait of a Woman (1851) (Private Collection?)
(b. ? d. ?; In all likelihood this is the same portrait sold by Harlowe-Powell Auction Gallery in November 2010 as a still unidentified "Portrait of a Lady". The painting is a 22.5" X 18.5" oil on canvas, which was restored, restretched and lined in 1972 by Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, CT. The portrait is signed on reverse: "Painted by N. Cook, Rochester, 1851." The estimated auction price was $800 - $1,200 with a final actual bid of $350. Although the portrait sold below Harlowe-Powell's estimate, this was true of most items at this auction. Unlike most of the known subjects from his early 1850s Rochester years, Cook painted this sitter with no seating, little facial modeling and animation, and a less expressive Mona Lisa-like smile. All of which was probably dictated by the size of the sitter's commission rather than Cook's artistic ability, which he clearly displayed in the woman's clothing by effectively contrasting the light, lacy quality of her white blouse with the heavier opaque texture of the black shawl draped over her shoulder. Noted by Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.)

Alexander Mann (1852) (Location unknown)
(b. 4 Oct 1811, Caledonia (Livingston County), NY - d. 6 Dec 1860, St. Augustine, Florida; co-founder with brother Reverend Donald C. Mann of the Rochester American, a local newspaper, and other publications; on March 10, 1849 married Jane Caroline Parker (1824-1922), daughter of a Canadian expatriate once charged with treason; Caroline herself became an editor of a Rochester woman's publication and bore Alexander two sons, Donald and John Parker, who went by "Parker" and who became a Hudson River School landscape painter; Alexander, a Whig, was deeply involved in the struggle for political power in NY between Democrats, Know Nothings, Republicans, and other factions (he predicted a Republican demise by 1856); joined the New York Times (1858) and moved his family to NYC (18 West Street); soon Alexander's pleurisy drove him and his family to St. Augustine, FL, where he farmed; though his "affections traveled North again," he never made it and died of a stroke at 49. There are interesting parallels between the lives of Mann and Cook [see Cook Biography]: their chronic illnesses and flirtation with the Know Nothings, Mann apparently corresponded with Millard Fillmore, whose son was painted by Cook [see Millard Power Fillmore], Boy with Hobby Horse was exhibited in the Arcade, across the street from Mann's office in Rochester's American Building. Mann's portrait was sent to the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, for exhibition, 1852, cat # 363.)

The Honorable Freeman Clarke (1852) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 22 March 1809, Troy, NY - d. 24 June 1887, Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; son of Isaac and Elizabeth Clarke; went into business at 15 years old, became bank cashier in Albion, NY; m. Henrietta J. Ward (1833); moved to Rochester (1845) and became officer of numerous railroads, telegraph and financial institutions, including Clarke National Bank; delegate to Whig National Convention (1852), Vice President of first NY Republican Convention (1852); elected to House of Representatives (1863-65, 1871-75); appointed by Lincoln as Comptroller of the Currency (1865-67), during which time important financial legislation was enacted, including national banking system; returned to business career late in life; trustee of University of Rochester. Photographs exist of Clarke as an older man, sometimes with a beard; Cook's oval portrait, shows a man with ample muttonchops and a youthful, cheery countenance. The Frick Art Reference Library provides this description of the portrait: "Brown hair and side whiskers, brown eyes. Black coat, waistcoat, and stock, white collar and shirt. Paper on table is inscribed: 'Rochester, July 22, 1852.' Subject holds a white quill. Red chair at left, red table in foreground. Brown background." Signed on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook / Rochester, NY / 1852".)


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.028.0001

Mrs. Freeman Clarke (Henrietta Jaquelina Ward) (1852) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 2 Oct 1814 - d. 30 Oct 1890; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; daughter of Dr. Levi Ward, land agent in New York for State of Connecticut (1810-), landholder, businessman; m. Freeman Clarke 1833; she was the mother of many children who were well-educated and well-traveled and became active in law and business; at least two children died young: Henry at age 7 (1848) and Elizabeth at 18 (1854); In lieu of the availability of a color version of this portrait, the Frick Art Reference Library offers this added detail: "Brown hair, gray eyes. Brown dress, white lace guimpe [a blouse worn under as dress], cameo brooch, red scarf. Brown frame chair with green upholstery. Brown background." Signed on reverse: "Painted by N. Cook / Rochester, N.Y. / 1852". )


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.028.0002

Mrs. Nelson Shaw (1852) (Rochester Historical Society)


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1992.123

Anonymous Man (1852) (Rochester Historical Society)
(Could this be Alexander Mann, painted the same year?)

Portait of a Man (1852) (Location unknown)
(Unclear if this is the same portrait as Anonymous Man. Sold at auction in Massachusetts for an unknown price in 1989. Auction description read: “Framed painting. Fine study of a handsome young man dressed in a formal black suit, and seated in a red upholstered Victorian chair. Signed, located and dated on reverse, Painted by N. Cook -- Rochester -- 1852.")

Professor Alverson of Genesee College (1852?) (Location unknown)
(James Lawrence Alverson, AM, LLD, b. Seneca, NY, 1816 - d. Lima, NY, 12 Sep 1864; graduated from Weslyan University in 1838 and in that year became principal of an academy in Elmira, NY; later (ca 1841-44) taught at the Oneida Conference Seminary (today Cazenovia College); ca 1844 joined the faculty of Genesee Weslyan Seminary in Lima and ca 1850 appointed Professor of Mathematics at Genesee College, Genesee Weslyan's companion school in Lima (the Seminary faced financial problems as the railroad displaced the Erie Canal and bypassed Lima; Genesee College itself eventually was seen as too remote by the Methodist Episcopal Church, which established Syracuse University, 90 miles away, in its place in 1870); served at Genesee College until his death, part of the time as acting president. His portrait was described by the Rochester Daily Democrat (15 March 1852) as "a very excellent half-length portrait…." Noted by the Genesee Country Village and Museum.)

Gentleman from Pittsford (1852?) (Location unknown)
(The Rochester Daily Democrat (1 July 1852) said of this painting: "The portrait of 'a gentleman of Pittsford,' in Mr. Elder's window, is a very correct as well as artistic picture. Mr. Cook, the artist, is a worthy gentleman, industrious and pains-taking in his profession, and has few superiors as a portrait painter." Judge John C. Hulbert, another Cook subject, is almost certainly not this "gentleman": Although from Pittsford, VT, he was serving as Saratoga County Surrogate at this time, when Cook was in Rochester. The subject of this portrait is probably from the town of Pittsford, NY, just outside Rochester.)

John Avery Pitts (1853) (Private collection, location unknown)
(b. 2 June 1799, Clinton, ME - d. 1 July 1859, Buffalo, b. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; son of Abial and Abiah [Wade] Pitts; with his identical twin brother Hiram Abial Pitts (d. 10 Sep 1860, Chicago) this Maine native obtained a number of farm equipment patents, including one in 1830 for a portable, horse-powered treadmill, another in 1834 for the "Pitts Endless Chain Rotary Pump" signed by President Andrew Jackson, and probably their most lucrative patent in 1837 for the first threshing and separating machine, which was belt-driven and powered by horse or water wheel and called the "Pitts' Patent Separator". The two brothers developed separate manufacturing facilities, with John's factories moving over the years from Albany to Rochester to Springfield, OH and ultimately to Buffalo; John's threshers were known as "Dayton-Pitts" during his Ohio years, and eventually became known as "Buffalo-Pitts Threshers" (see below) following his death; John also received a gold medal at the 1855 Paris Exposition for a thresher attachment which measured and registered the number of bushels bagged. As evidenced by his more costly three-quarter length pose with exposed hands, John Avery Pitts was a man of means, which speaks to his great success as an inventor and the 50-year agricultural standard that was to be set by the Buffalo-Pitts Thresher. Mr. Pitts is shown proudly holding the plans for his thresher, and the words "Pitts' Patent Separator" are legible on the documents. Interestingly, Cook has seated Mr. Pitts in a green chair, a departure from the artist's characteristic preference for red, which may indicate a further customization of the portrait's composition to include furniture actually present in the Pitts's home. Only Mr. Pitts's portrait is signed by the artist, "Painted by N. Cook 1853", on the front at lower left. Both this painting and that of Mrs. Pitts below have undergone considerable restoration, including a great deal of overpainting and canvas repairs. Despite both portraits having significant amounts of new canvas added to the rear sections, small holes and tears still appear in each painting. The portraits in non-period frames were sold as a pair by Skinner, Inc. of Boston in December 2007 for $940.)

Mrs. John (Mary Jennings) Avery Pitts (1853) (Private collection, location unknown)
(b. 20 Oct 1801, North Wayne, ME - d. 15 Sep 1876, Buffalo; daughter of Nathaniel and Tabitha [Ford] Jennings; m. John Avery Pitts in North Wayne, ME on 22 March 1826 and bore six children, two of whom died at a young age.)


Morris H. Seligman (1853) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 1 Jun 1819 in Bavaria – d. 11 Dec 1890 in Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; a clothing merchant; probably the first Jewish Mason in Rochester; had a least one daughter, Henriette, who worked with Susan B. Anthony to raise the necessary funding for the University of Rochester to admit woman and Henriette's two daughters were among the small group of woman who were the first to enter the University as students in 1900.)


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.000.0024

Jane Samuels Seligman (Mrs. Morris H. Seligman) (1853) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 23 Mar 1827 in London, England – d. 6 Oct 1885 in Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; The Frick Art Reference Library provides this information about the portrait: "Brown hair and eyes. Black dress, white lace collar, red scarf. Brown and gold earrings and brooch. Brown frame chair with red upholstery. Brown background. Signed and dated on back.")


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1991.000.0025

Susan Julia Potter (1853) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 1835 - d. 1908; second wife of Byron D. MacAlpine (1824-1894); both buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; one of a minority of full-length Cook portrait subjects [see Judge Halsey Rogers and Millard Powers Fillmore]; sister of Mary Elizabeth Potter. Although only a black and white photograph is available, a description of the painting at the Frick Art Reference Library says: "Brown hair, gray eyes. Green dress, white lace undersleeves, brown parasol with white handle, red scarf on table at lower right. Olive-brown background. Signed on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook / Rochester, NY / 1853."")


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, #1991.287

Mary Elizabeth Potter (1853?) (Location unknown)
(Attributed to Cook; sister of Susan Julia Potter and possible companion piece to her portrait. Noted by Rochester Historical Society)

Charles Miller Williams/Boy with Hobby Horse/"Hobby Gray" (1854) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. Apr 1851 - d. 1930; eldest son of Charles H. and grandson of Presbyterian Rev Comfort Williams, first settled clergyman in "Rochesterville" (ca 1818); Charles M. attended the local Free Academy, received an AB from the University of Rochester in 1871, was admitted to the bar in 1875, and became a prominent attorney; active member of the University's Board of Trustees, 1888-99, and a significant benefactor of the University and its library; a memorial prize is offered at the University each year in his and Mary Washington Williams (his wife's?) name for accomplishment in English. This unusual and striking portrait was apparently dubbed "Hobby Gray" when painted and caused something of a stir in Rochester. According to the Daily Union (2 May 1854): "There is a picture in Elder's window in the Arcade, which attracts considerable attention. It is a painting of a little boy standing beside his hobby-horse, neatly executed...." Apparently the original commission would bring Cook $110, but he told his brother Ransom that the little boy's mother suggested the father would raise the fee if the portrait were "elegant." "So," wrote Cook," I added a horse." The father was reluctant to increase the fee, however, which in the end apparently earned Cook $114; clearly bitter, Cook wrote that the painting was said to be the best oil "seen out of New York City -- and ... worth $200." [For more on this painting see A Closer Look.])


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, acc #1979.044.0003

Unidentified Lady in a Green Dress (1854) (Private collection, California)
(This portrait is a classic Cook work, including the artist's hallmark red seat and his finely crafted lace rendering. Although the woman in this painting is unknown, two possibilities exist as to her identity. Could she be one of the two women noted below: Alice Chester or Emily Ide? We may never know for sure, but the date and location are consistent with the long-ago written references we have for these two ladies. Along with the artist's signature, the portrait's reverse also carries the following stenciling, which has never been seen on another Cook painting: GOUPIL & CO / Artist's Colourmen & Print Sellers / 366 Broadway / NEW YORK. Goupil & Co. was a leading French art dealer and art materials supplier with offices throughout the world, including New York City. With Goupil's offices moving to 366 Broadway in 1854, it would appear Cook purchased the canvas for this portrait from the firm's trade catalog soon after their relocation.)

Alice Chester (1854) (Location unknown)
(b. 5 May 1837, Ballston, NY - d. 12 Sep 1884, Montreal; eldest daughter of Albert Tracy Chester and Rhoda Elizabeth Stanley Chester; the Rev Chester, like Cook from the Ballston area, was a prominent churchman in Buffalo; he also wrote poetry, published in at least one prominent magazine, Godey's; he apparently maintained his ties with the Saratoga area and named his youngest son Walworth. Cook's letters indicate he and the Rev met socially in Buffalo, where some of Chester's friends suggested that a gift of a portrait would help introduce Cook to "the wealthiest class." The portrait was begun in Buffalo that summer and finished in Rochester. Although in debt, critical of the clergy, perhaps jealous of Chester's success with his poems, and loath to give up a $50 fee, Cook painted a head or bust of Chester's eldest and gave it to the family; he later heard that the Chesters did not approve of the portrait, had it sent to him, and refused to return it to Chester though the churchman "wants it wonderfully now." Apparently, the painting never was returned to the Chesters as the portrait was noted in an undated (c. 1885) newspaper article as one of several paintings in Cook's Saratoga Springs studio.)

Nelson Paine Stewart (1854) (Location unknown)
(b. ? - d. 1864; originally from Rome, NY and known as an "extensive speculator"; married Laura Fish (1807 - ?), lived in Ithaca and Rome, NY, and had at least one son born in 1836 before heading to Detroit; divorced ca. 1852 and then married Mary Ann Baines; ca. 1843 built a mill in Auburn, MI - said to have been the finest mill in the state of Michigan; soon after, however, Stewart became bankrupt, forcing the mill's sale; although specifics are unknown, other business failings apparently plagued Stewart in later years as he was described as "eminent, but ultimately an unfortunate financier"; president of the Detroit and Pontiac Railway from 1852 to 1855 during which time Stewart negotiated the purchase of land to extend the railroad's reach across Michigan; the D&P consolidated under the name Detroit & Milwaukee Rail Road in 1855 and Stewart was named President of this concern in late 1857; by 1860 he also was a Director of Sandusky, Dayton, & Cincinnati Rail Road Company; died of a paralytic stroke. In a letter to Ransom from Rochester dated 13 Aug 1854, Cook mentions that he has worked on a bust of "Mr. Stewart," president of the Detroit and Pontiac Railway for which he should earn $50. Cook's letter suggests he may have also painted Mrs. Stewart at this time.)

An Amusing Storing about Nelson Paine Stewart as Related by his Great-Grandson
From All Aboard! A History of Railroads in Michigan by Willis Frederick Dunbar (1969)

Detroit-Pontiac Railroad promoter, Nelson Paine Stewart, and "Salt" Williams, a railroad detractor, made a bet as to which would win a 25-mile race from Pontiac to Detroit: Stewart's train or Williams's team of horses pulling a carriage. The winner was to be waiting at Detroit's Griswold House with dinner ordered, and the loser was to pay for the dinner and hand over $5,000. The road between the two towns was sandy and full of ruts, so Stewart didn't see how he could lose. Yet when the train got to Detroit there was Salt waiting with a sign, "Dinner is ready, Nelson." The night before the race, Salt and his cohorts had taken away all the cordwood stacked along the railway making it necessary for Stewart and others aboard to chop and saw wood every few miles to provide fuel for the locomotive.

Mrs. Erastus (Emily A. Warren) Ide (1854?) (Location unknown)
(b. 1823 – d. 1907; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY; second wife of Erastus Ide [1818 – 1879] after Erastus’s first wife, Elizabeth Jane Carson of Pittsfield, MA, died on 7 Apr 1848 at the age of 23; perhaps Elizabeth Jane was the daughter of Erastus’s business partner with whom he co-owned the Carson and Ide Paper Mill at Moonda Creek near Newburgh, NY in 1854, by 1870 simply known as the Ide Paper Company, and sold in 1876; these may be the same Carsons, who along with the Cranes [makers of today's US currency paper], were pioneer paper manufacturers in Dalton, MA, outside Pittsfield [these mills were depicted harshly in Melville's "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus Maids," Harper's Magazine, April 1855]. In a letter to Ransom dated 13 Aug 1854 and written in Rochester, Cook mentions that he is working on a portrait, a "bust," of Mrs. Ide of Newburgh, NY, and that her husband is "in company with Carson" making paper; he also mentions the $50 he expects from this work. Apparently Emily Ide had come to Rochester from Newburgh with Erastus, whose name appears in Rochester newspapers of the time. The Newburgh, NY, City Directory also lists an Erastus Ide after 1868. The disposition of this portrait, if it exists, is unknown.)

Mrs. Naramore (1855) (Canton Museum of Art, OH)
(Exact identification unknown, but may be Lucy A. Jones Naramore (name also found as Ann Jones Naramore, with “Ann” possibly being Lucy’s middle name) (?), b. 1825, Union County, PA – d. 30 Sep 1858, 10 days after the birth of her second son, John M. (Her first child was Willard W.) Married in March 1848 to Hon. Willard Parker Naramore (b. 19 Dec 1824 in Junius, NY – d. 1910 in Illinois), a respected physician, preacher, financier, and politician. At an early age Dr. Naramore moved with his family to Ohio, where he eventually received his medical degree in 1845. One year later he moved to Stephenson County, Illinois and began what became a very successful medical practice, which in turn allowed him to enter the field of banking and finance, at which he also excelled. Soon after his arrival in Illinois, he established the Mt. Pleasant Church of Christ, where he preached for many years. Although once an avid Stephen Douglas supporter, with the outbreak of the Civil War he changed his political allegiance to the Republican Party and Union preservation. Dr. Naramore’s political ambitions were confined to the local level (e.g., State Legislature 1859-60), but many felt he would have been very successful had he pursued national office. Among his close acquaintances was Melville W. Fuller, who went on to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In Nov 1859 Dr. Naramore married his second wife, Mary Brower (b. 1835 – d. 1895), who like his first wife, was also from Union County, PA. Mary bore him 5 additional children.)


From the Permanent Collection of the Canton Museum of Art, acc #75.78

Nelson Cook Self-Portrait (?) (1856) (Rochester Historical Society)
(This portrait is signed "Nelson Cook" on verso, as was his custom for most of the portraits he painted; there is also a label on the lower stretcher bar stating that it is a self-portrait. However, at this time there is no independent confirmation (ie, letter, diary, article, etc.) that Cook ever did this self-portrait [see the 1832 self-portrait], and the Rochester Historical Society makes no definitive claim that it is, in fact, Nelson Cook. The label could have been added later by one who, for reasons unknown, simply assumed it was a self-portrait. A comparison of this portrait to the artist's photograph [below, right], apparently taken just three years before the painting, suggests similarities and differences. Could the "self-portrait" actually be of Nelson's brother Ransom, although Ransom was likely too old for this sitter in 1856 [see portraits above and below and Ransom's photograph]? Or perhaps the "self-portrait" might be better labeled "Unidentified Man." Visitors to this website are invited to make their own visual comparisons; let us know what you think.)


Portrait courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, #1980.000.0043
Photo courtesy of H. A. Eastman

George G. Clarkson (1856) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. 1811 in Edinburgh, Scotland – d. 28 Aug 1905 in Rochester, NY; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester; married Mary M. Parcells, who died 8 Oct 1863 at age 50; briefly moved to US with father ca. 1810, returned to Scotland for several years, and then permanently relocated to US in 1813; for many years President of the Rochester Athenaeum (today’s Rochester Institute of Technology); Mayor of Rochester, 1874-1875; in 1876 with Rev Thomas Gallaudet, the eldest son of deaf-mute advocacy pioneer Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, helped establish the Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes, which Alexander Graham Bell described as “the best disciplined and most admirably conducted institute in the country”; served as Vice President and President of the Institution for many years; associated with area financial institutions, including the Monroe County Savings Bank where he served on the Board of Trustees during the 1890s.)


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, #1994.350.0001

Mary Parsells Clarkson (Mrs. George Clarkson) (1856) (Rochester Historical Society)
(b. ca. 1813 – d. 8 Oct 1863; buried Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY; wife of George Clarkson, with whom she had at least one daughter, Mary M. and presumably a son, George P. [1835 – 1897], who is buried in the same plot as Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson.)


Courtesy of Rochester Historical Society, #1994.350.0002

Portrait of a Gentleman (1856) (Location unknown)
(Noted by Historical Society of Saratoga Springs. Could this be Edward Wamsley?)

Edward Wamsley (?) (1856) (Location unknown)
(Wamsley is listed as owner of Portrait of a Gentleman in record of National Academy of Art & Design Exhibition, 1856, catalog number 196. Could he be the "gentleman"? Cook suggests in letter from New York City in May 1860, that he is to do a portrait of a "Mrs. Wamsley.")

Dr. Samuel Freeman (1857) (Private collection?)
(b. 14 Feb 1790, Hanover, NH? - d. 19 Dec 1870; son of Jonathan and Sarah Huntington Freeman; moved to Saratoga Springs from Ballston Spa in 1840; served as a Whig elector in the presidential election of 1848, casting his vote for the Taylor/Fillmore ticket; elected mayor of Saratoga Springs (1865); m. Helen Woodruff of Albany (21 May 1817); a daughter Helen, also a Cook sitter, married the prominent Presbyterian, Rev. John Woodbridge; it appears another daughter, Anna Elizabeth, died in her youth. The inscription on the back of this portrait reads "Samuel Freeman, M.D. Born in Hanover, N.H., Feb. 21, 1790 (Died Dec. 19, 1870) Painted by Nelson Cook, Jan. 1857 at Saratoga Springs, N.Y"; apparently Durkee's Reminiscences of Saratoga is incorrect in stating he was born at Ballston Spa, but The Frick Collection states his birthday was 14 (not 21) February. The portrait shows a distinguished, confident gentleman, bald with flowing hair down the back of his neck. Dr. Freeman is listed as owner of A Gentleman in the National Academy of Art & Design record for 1857, cat #146, and is the likely subject.)

Mrs. John Woodbridge (Helen Freeman) (1857) (Private collection?)
(b. ca 1824; daughter of Dr. Samuel and Helen Woodruff Freeman of Ballston Spa and Saratoga; m. John Woodbridge 11 Sep 1861; Durkee's Reminiscences of Saratoga indicates that Rev. Dr. Woodbridge (d. 4 July 1909, South Pasadena, CA) was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Saratoga for over 20 years. Oval portrait, painted in Saratoga, shows a pretty woman with warm black hair in ringlets.)

Ellen Hardin Walworth (1857) (Historical Society of Saratoga Springs)
(b. Jacksonville, IL, 20 Oct 1832 - d. Saratoga Springs, 1915; daughter of Sarah Ellen Hardin and John J. Hardin, one-time US Congressman and leader in Black Hawk War, killed at Buena Vista in Mexican War; granddaughter of Martin Hardin, US Senator (KY); came to Saratoga 1851, when mother married Reuben Walworth; m. stepbrother Mansfield Tracy Walworth, 29 July 1852, making her Reuben's stepdaughter and daughter-in-law; marriage produced 8 children but also domestic violence, separation, and scandal [see Walworth Children]; co-founder of the DAR, 1890, educator, and civic leader in Saratoga; her 1893 address on the value of archives said to lead eventually to creation of National Archives; poet, essayist, author, pioneer feminist. Portrait is oil on canvas oval, signed and dated verso by the artist; front view head with shoulders slightly turned, light brown hair braided across top; wearing white lace stole over green gown; left hand seems posed to display wedding ring prominently; subject, with a cheerful, outgoing countenance, seated on rose-colored chair, pale brown background.)

Ransom Cook (1857) (Location unknown)
([See Ransom Cook, 1844.] Ransom Cook is listed as the owner of A Gentleman in the record of the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, 1857, cat #435; it is very possible that he is the subject.)

DeWitt Clinton Hay (1857) (Caldwell-Lake George Library, Lake George, NY)
(b. 1 May 1817, Caldwell, NY - d. 22 Jul 1887 in Tarrytown [Westchester Co.], NY; son of Judge William Hay (once referred to as an "acute lawyer" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a letter to Susan B. Anthony when seeking legal advice for the women's movement) and Sophia Payne, residents of Saratoga Springs; in 1850 worked for Rawdon, Wright, Hatch and Smillie, a New York City firm engaged in bank note and postage stamp engraving; one of the founding members of the New York Water Color Society in 1850; also a little-known landscape painter, who worked mostly in the Adirondacks, with particular interest in painting lake and river scenes; primarily known for his water colors on paper using an "ink and wash" technique, whereby a thin, translucent layer of paint is applied to an ink drawing; on 2 Jan 1844 married Sarah Fox (b. 1825 - d. 3 Sep 1861) and then following Sarah's death, on 30 Sep 1863 in Saratoga Springs married the eccentric Marietta Doe Pickering (b. 1819 - d. 13 Feb 1901) of Sackets Harbor, NY; probably lived for a time in Saratoga Springs, but eventually settled in Tarrytown, NY in 1870 where he remained until his death; Hay's estate financed the Dewitt C. Hay Memorial Tower and Library and the carillon at the United Presbyterian Church in Sackets Harbor, NY and the Caldwell-Lake George Library in Lake George, NY, where Cook's portrait of Mr. Hay now hangs. Hay's portrait is signed and dated on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook 1857." The portrait's lack of arms and hands and only the faint hint of Cook's characteristic red chair in an otherwise plain background suggest Hay's unwillingness to invest a great deal in his own likeness.)

Unidentified Woman in Blue Gown (1857) (Private Collection)
(b. ? - d. ?; This 3/4 length portrait shows an unknown woman in a blue gown standing before a mountainous landscape scene. While Cook is known to have used this exterior background technique in several paintings, when he did so he generally downplayed this aspect of the portrait [see Anna Cady Cook, Thomas Jefferson Marvin, James G. Averill, Reuben Hyde Walworth, Jr., Portrait of a Girl]. But in this instance, Cook has included a glowing red sky in his landscape, which provides a contrasting backdrop to the composition, in much the same way his trademark red seat does in many of his other portraits. Cook's light and airy treatment of the woman's gown is especially noteworthy and the delicate quality of the fine lace of the dress's sleeves is reminiscent of the artist's 1850 portrayal of Phebe Hawxhurst Field's lace cap. But there may be something else going on here in what is otherwise a beautifully crafted portrait. Similar to Cook's 1848 Portrait of a Young Woman, the artist has included wilted flowers with a falling petal, an urn, a sitter with a subdued, Mona Lisa-like smile, and a red, somewhat threatening, background sky, all of which suggest this may be a posthumous mourning portrait in remembrance of the woman in the blue gown herself. Such renderings of the deceased as if they were still very much alive were extremely popular in the 1850s. Signed on the back: "Painted by Nelson Cook 1857".)

The Walworth Children (1858) (Historical Society of Saratoga Springs)

Reuben Hyde Walworth (jr) (1858): Posthumous portrait of the only child of Sarah and the Chancellor [See Reuben Hyde Walworth, Ellen Hardin Walworth]. This was painted from a daguerreotype several years after the infant's death. The child is pictured lying on a Walworth family love seat that is currently in the same room of Saratoga's Casino Museum where the portrait hangs as of 2007.)


Unidentified Walworth Children: Oil on canvas, horizontal oval, signed on verso "Painted by Nelson Cook. Saratoga Springs. 1858". This pair, well dressed, well groomed and clearly of a family of stature, are thought to be two of the eight children of Mansfield Tracy and Ellen Hardin Walworth,most likely [says one assessment] of Frank and John [see below]. This and the painting below are located in the Walworth Museum, The Casino, Saratoga.


Courtesy of Historical Society of Saratoga Springs, acc #W-70-15

Unidentified Child: Oil on canvas oval, s., d.1858 verso. This angelic portrait with tones of light gray, beige, and blue is thought to be a posthumous painting, as suggested by the puffy clouds at bottom. Donated in the 1950s by a great granddaughter of Reuben Hyde Walworth.


Courtesy of Historical Society of Saratoga Springs, acc #W-70-19
(While identification of children of the extended Reuben Walworth family in these portraits is uncertain, many of his offspring have interesting biographies:
Clarence Augustus/Alphonsus: b. Plattsburgh, NY, 30 May 1820 - d. 1900; oldest son of Reuben and 5th child; graduated Union College, 1838; admitted to bar, 1841, and practiced law in Rochester; attended Episcopal divinity school in NYC; became a Catholic, attended University of Wittenberg and ordained priest; served as missionary in England and, after 1850 for 15 years, in USA; helped found Paulist Order; poor health curtailed missionary work; served as pastor of St. Mary's Church, Albany, until his death.
Sarah Simonds Walworth: m. 31 Aug 1838; husband John Mason Davison, long Register in Chancery in Saratoga and later President, Saratoga and Whitehall RR; Davison son of Gideon Davison, founder of Saratoga Sentinel newspaper and several successful railroads, including Utica & Schenectady in 1833. Smithsonian Institution Research Information System notes a portrait of Sarah.
Mansfield Tracy: b. Albany, 3 Dec 1830 - d. NYC, 3 June 1873; Reuben's 2nd son and youngest child; graduated Union College, 1849, and Harvard Law, 1852; admitted to bar, 1855; practiced law with father but eventually lost interest; became writer for the Home Journal and a novelist; books include Mission of Death (1853), Lulu (1865), Warwick (1868), Beverly, or The White Mask (1873); a Feb 1858 letter from Cook to Mansfield suggests that the artist, then in NYC, attempted to teach the young man about classical art and art appreciation; m. stepsister Ellen Hardin, 1852; reflecting severe domestic discord, he at one point moved to NYC and wrote threatening letters to Ellen; eldest son Francis/Frank Hardin Walworth at 19, upset at father's behavior, shot and killed him in NYC; following sensational trial, Frank sentenced to life in prison, but mother Ellen worked for his pardon on grounds of inherited insanity.)

Mrs. Esek Cowen (Betsey Berry Rogers) (1858) (Connecticut Historical Society)
(b. 18 March 1781, New Jersey - d. 1866; m. Esek Cowen 1811; daughter of Sidney Berry, Revolutionary War Colonel and first clerk and surrogate of Saratoga County. Children by Esek: Susan Berry, Sidney Joseph, and Patrick Henry Cowen; apparently, by previous marriage, mother of Thomas Rogers (b. 1808), who became step-son and law student of Esek and later entered politics. It is perhaps a demonstration of the close ties -- by family, by profession, etc. -- of Cook's sitters that Judge Halsey Rogers was uncle of Thomas.)

Husband and Wife (pair of portraits) (1858) (C. G. Sloan & Co.?)
(Noted by Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.)

Ernestine L(ouise) Rose (1858?) (Location unknown)
(b. Ernestine Louise/Lasmond Susmund Potoski/Polowsky, 13 Jan 1810, Pyeterkow, Poland - d. Brighton, England, 4 Aug 1892; a leading feminist, abolitionist and atheist; born the daughter of a rabbi, she rebelled from strict Jewish upbringing, left Poland, and befriended radicals in England such as utopian socialist Robert Owen; married William Rose and came to the USA, where she took up abolitionism and other causes. Described as handsome, well spoken, and witty, she often addressed large audiences, first in New York state, then further afield; worked with Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, William Lloyd Garrison, Isabella Beecher Hooker [of the famous Beecher clan, related through marriage to JH Hooker], many others. She and husband are buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. Many photos and lithographs of Rose exist; it is tempting to suggest feminist and Saratogan Ellen Walworth as the link to Cook, but it seems as likely that Cook and Rose came together due to her many conventions in upstate New York; Cook also was in NYC around this time. Exhibited at the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, 1858, cat #216; portrait owner at the time listed in NAD catalog as “E.L. Cook,” though this may be a misprint for E.L. Rose; Mr. Rose apparently owned his portrait.)

William E(lla) Rose (1858?) (Location unknown)
(b. ca 1813, England - d. 1882, England; skilled jeweler and silversmith; born a Christian; follower of Robert Owen; married Ernestine Rose ca 1830; they set up shop in New York, he working with jewelry to support her causes, she making the perfumed papers she sold in Europe and the USA to ease the stench of tenement houses. Cook's family portraits, like most of those of the 19th Century, are generally defined by the husband/father; William and Ernestine Rose apparently are an exception. Exhibited at the National Academy of Art & Design, NYC, 1858, cat #217; portrait owner at the time listed as Mr. Rose.)

A Boy (Shepherd?) (1858?) (Location unknown)
(Listed in exhibit record of National Academy of Art & Design for 1858, cat #528; owner is Mrs. D. Shepherd.)

A Gentleman: Dr. W. S. Alger (?) (1859) (Location unknown)
(Dr. Alger is listed as owner of portrait A Gentleman in the National Academy of Art & Design record for 1859, cat #589; the subject may be Dr. Alger. There is a Wilks S. Alger reported as a trustee of Saratoga Springs in 1850 by Sylvester's History of Saratoga County (1878).)

Unidentified Lady with a Scarf (1859) (Private Collection, Location Unknown)
(b. ? - d. ?. This painting is wonderfully crafted both in artistic technique and composition as the woman strikes a whimsical, but pensive pose. Cook has masterfully captured his sitter's external beauty and internal peace. In the process we are happily forced to gaze upon her contemplative facial expression in the same way that she seems equally comfortable staring back at us. The artist's treatment of her hair curls and the folds of her clothing is superb and though her hand still shows somewhat tubular fingers as in other portraits, the rendering appears more lifelike than many of Cook's other attempts. While the portrait has many condition issues, the foregoing description is begging someone to restore the painting to its glory days of over 150 years ago. The portrait is signed on reverse: "Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, 1859.")

Sister of Colonel/General Graham (ca 1860) (Location unknown)
(Cook refers to this painting in two letters from NYC, 19 April and 17 May 1860. This was apparently a posthumous portrait done from photographs belonging to Col/Gen Graham (Cook refers to him by both ranks at different times), President of Metropolitan Insurance Company and an art collector who took several hours to walk a clearly impressed Cook through his collection. Cook observes that painting from photos is more difficult than working with a sitter.)

Madame d'Uresmond (ca 1860) (Location unknown)
(In a letter from NYC in May, 1860, Cook writes: "I have varnished Madame D'uresmond's [sic] Portrait. Mr. Rose helped me hang it up, in a good light. It is at once recognized." Nothing further is known of the sitter or the portrait, though it is possible she was associated with the woman's movement, if for no other reason than "Mr. Rose" is presumably William E. Rose, husband of Ernestine, whose portraits apparently were done around this time, with Ernestine's also varnished.)

Morris Boy (ca 1860) (Location unknown)
(Described as a miniature of a son of Mrs. Morris of Clinton Place, NYC, in a Cook letter of 17 May 1860. Could this be Mrs. R.V. Morris, mentioned as owner of Portrait of a Lady in the record of exhibits of the National Academy of Art & Design, 1843, cat #65?)

Unidentified Woman (1863) (Private Collection, Flemington, NJ)
(Purchased in 1982 in New Hampshire for $150.)

Rev. John Wayland, D.D. (1863) (Hamilton College Collection)
(b. 1805 at New York, NY - d. 16 Oct 1863 at Saratoga Springs, NY; buried Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs; son of Francis Wayland, Sr. and Sarah Moore, both 1793 English immigrants, who settled in Saratoga Springs in 1821; on 3 Oct 1861 married Mary Burr, who was widowed twice before and who was the daughter of Samuel Young, former Secretary of State of New York and 1824 Bucktails candidate for New York Governor (defeated by DeWitt Clinton); graduated from Philips Academy in Andover, MA in 1823 and from Union College (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1827; 1828-1831 tutored at Brown University, where brother, Francis, Jr., was president; first professor of rhetoric at Hamilton College 1831-1834; pastor First Baptist Church of Salem, MA 1834-1843, rector St. John's Episcopal Church, Canandaigua, NY (Ontario County) 1844-1848, rector St. James Episcopal Church of Roxbury, MA 1848-1858, and ministered in the Saratoga Springs area 1858-1863, perhaps at Bethesda Episcopal Church or Christ Episcopal Church in Ballston Spa; died in Saratoga Springs in 1863. Although suffering from lost paint and other condition issues, the 56.5" x 44.5" three-quarter length portrait is masterfully crafted and shows a distinguished and contemplative gentleman. The back of the painting in inscribed "Painted by Nelson Cook / Saratoga Springs / 1863." A letter from Rev. Wayland's step son-in-law, John Whetten Ehninger, a very successful genre and portrait painter and illustrator in his own right, attests to the accuracy of Cook's rendering. In a March 19, 1887 story announcing Mrs. Wayland's bequeath of the portrait to Hamilton College upon her death two months prior, the Rome [NY] Citizen Newspaper stated:

The portrait was painted twenty-five years ago, when Prof. [sic] Cook was a much younger
man than at present, but it gives us pleasure to state that the lapse of years has not
disabled him from performing artistic work in his line. Although nearly 80 years old, he
continues to make beautiful likenesses, as can be attested by very many who will read this
article. He is one of the youngest "old men" whom we have the pleasure of knowing.

[And now, the rest of the story...On August 8, 1855 the then-called New York Daily Times ran an article about Charley Burr of Albany, who was the long disowned only son of a very wealthy man. The Times stated: "The son was of a strange cast of mind. Some cause had shaken his intellect, and made him at times 'put strange antics on' and yet those who knew him best, and especially those who imagined the cause, never doubted his sanity." Yet, because of this odd behavior, Charley's father refused to provide any shelter or any other means of support, and treated his son with humiliating disdain, which only made matters worse for the boy. Charley became an outcast and barely survived by begging and selling books. According to the article, "He was recognized only as a repulsive mendicant in the streets." Eventually the father died in November 1844 and no will could be found. The court declared Charley legally insane and made him the sole heir of his father's $430,000 fortune. A committee was appointed to oversee Charley's affairs on his behalf and money was provided to Charley for shelter, furnishings, food, and the like. The decree of insanity said Charley could in no way dispose of his property. In 1847 Charley requested and received a modification to the decree, making him "absolute and unrestrained owner of his immense estate." No one imagined that Charley would ever marry, but in May 1855 he took a wife and granted her half of his wealth. And who was this woman? Mary Young Beach, who, following Charley Burr's death six years hence, would take Rev. John Wayland as her third husband.])

Portrait of Unknown Female (1863) (Peacham Historical Association)
(Noted by Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.)

Unidentified Woman (1865) (Private Collection)
(This oval portrait, 16X13, was found at an estate sale behind a print which had been cut to fit the frame. Written on the reverse is "Painted by Nelson Cook. Saratoga Springs, 1865"; assuming it is Cook's, the signature by this time has become less flowing, more stiff. Stylistically the portrait, more "primitive" in appearance than we see in the 1840s-50s, recalls the Nelson Cook of an earlier day; this may be explained by the fact that the portrait was apparently painted directly onto a photo of the subject. Cook was working from photos by this time [see Sister of Colonel/General Graham, 1860], and perhaps this was intended as a simple study, a preliminary work, or even something "experimental." Nevertheless, we see some elements typical of Cook throughout much of his career: eg, a deep red seat for the subject, "tubular" forearm and fingers. Purchased at auction in 2006 for $102, the portrait is "home" in Saratoga as of 2007.)

Unidentified Gentleman (1867) (Location unknown)
(Signed "N. Cook" on the front and "Painted by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs, NY 1867" on the reverse; 27"X34"; noted in letter of inquiry to Historical Society of Saratoga Springs from Winston-Salem, NC, Oct 1969.)

Reverend George W. Fisher (1868) (Private Collection)
(Buried in Church of the Messiah Cemetery, Woods Hole, MA; Cook was commissioned to paint this portrait in August-September 1868, in anticipation or celebration of Fisher's ordination as deacon and/or Priest of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Albany; it is likely that Fisher made contact with Cook (through Bethesda Episcopal Church, where Cook had been baptized and confirmed a decade before?) during his posting as Resident Missionary in the Saratoga/Schuylerville area in the 1860s, aided by a grant from the diocesan Board of Missions; in March, 1871 Father Fisher was elected rector of the Church of St. John The Evangelist (Episcopal), Stockport, Columbia County, NY (where he is known to have funded a library of theological works), and later, for his final years, at Church of the Messiah in Woods Hole (where the parish house is named for him). The portrait, a bust perhaps painted from a photograph, shows Father Fisher in clerical collar seated in a chair with a column behind him, in right front profile; printed in the front mid-lower left is "Painted by Nelson Cook 1868"; a "paid" signed receipt for $100 from Cook to Fisher is in the possession of the priest's descendents. With an "empty olive background and black cassock occupying much of the canvas," the portrait, in fair condition, is said to have "a dark sense to it." [See Rev. James Bradford])

Olmstead Family (ca 1870) (Location unknown)
(Family group portrait (?) allegedly done from "wretchedly colored" photographs provided to Cook in 1865. A Cook letter of 31 Oct 1870 suggests a vigorous dispute between him and Mr. Olmstead over payment of the fee; the outcome of the disagreement is unclear but may have resulted in an unfinished or undelivered work.)

Susan (Bellows) Sowles (1871?) (Location unknown)
(b. 13 Feb 1868?; Cook refers to "little Susan Sowles" in an undated letter; daughter of Edward Sowles and Margaret Bellows Sowles, thereby related to Hiram Bellows (1798-1876), who made his fortune in railroads and left a bequest to fund Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans, VT. Apparently in a case reaching the Supreme Court of VT in 1903, Susan and her parents asserted a claim to a portion of Hiram's bequest through litigation. Unlike most of his inscriptions, located on the reverse of his portraits, Cook signed this one on the lower front right; he was paid $110 for the Sowles painting. Portrait noted by Historical Society of Saratoga Springs.)

John Chester Gallup, M.D. (1873) (Location unknown)
(b. 25 Feb 1812, Brooklyn, CT - d. 15 Apr 1884, Clinton, NY; buried Sunset Hills Cemetery, Kirkland, NY; one of 12 children of John Gallup and Lucy Clark; 1833 graduate of Berkshire Medical College in Pittsfield, MA; practiced medicine at various locations in the states of Michigan and New York 1834-1851; ceased the practice of medicine 1851 due to ill health and eventually taught at Ingham University in Le Roy, NY 1858 -1860 where he met and married Marilla Houghton 1859; with renewed good health purchased Home Cottage Seminary in Clinton, NY 1861 and changed the name to Houghton Seminary in honor of his wife and ran the school as its principal until retirement 1880; the seminary was considered "one of the best and most flourishing ladies schools in the State;" active in Presbyterian Church and devoted abolitionist and temperance reformer. Cook's introduction to Gallup was provided by the artist's son-in-law, Frank Ellenwood, who taught music at the school. A May 1, 1873 article in the Clinton [NY] Courier says Dr. Gallup presented Cook with a gold-headed cane in appreciation for painting his and Mrs. Gallup's portraits (according to Gallup, "magical manipulations of the brush"), during which time the artist lived with the couple for several weeks while completing the paintings.)

Mrs. John Chester (Marilla Houghton) Gallup (1873) (Location unknown)
(b. 7 May 1825, Sutton, VT - d. 1 Nov 1894, Clinton, NY; buried Sunset Hills Cemetery, Kirkland, NY.; daughter of Captain William Houghton and Marilla Clay and sister of Henry O. Houghton of Houghton Mifflin Company publishing fame; 1846 graduate of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now College) in Massachusetts and then taught at Willoughby Female Seminary in Ohio 1854 and eventually Ingham University in Le Roy, NY 1855-1860; married fellow teacher Dr. John Chester Gallup 1859; worked with her husband as assistant principal of Houghton Seminary in Clinton, NY 1861-1880; very active in Presbyterian Church in Clinton and elected president of the Women's Board of Home Missionaries Committee for eight consecutive years; devoted abolitionist and temperance reformer.)

Tom Thumb (1875 or earlier) (Location unknown)
(That this might have been a show person (?) (or even a locomotive?) is suggested by a Cook letter of 30 May 1880 in which he claims that a gallery owner said he could find someone willing to buy the work for $175, this apparently five years or more after the painting was completed.)

Calvert Comstock (1876? 1877?) (Location unknown)
(b. 2 July 1812 - d. 15 Oct 1876; taught school then attended Hamilton College, 1831-33; studied law and admitted to bar, 1836; practiced law in Rome, NY; appointed District Attorney for Oneida County and sat in the NY State Assembly (1845); also active newspaperman, serving as an editor of the Albany Argus in 1855 and a founder of the Rome Daily Sentinel; m. Eliza Mann Sill (1836), seven children; first mayor of incorporated Rome, NY; died of consumption. In a letter (8 Feb 1877) Cook mentions a commission he received to do a portrait of the late mayor, apparently from photos; however, while he notes that a City committee must approve his submission, he does not mention if the portrait ever was accepted; today portraits of all the mayors of Rome hang in the City Hall, but that of Comstock is not an oil portrait and is probably not Cook's work; it is not known whether the portrait exists today.)

Alderman Franklin B. Beers (ca 1877) (Location unknown)
(b. ? - d. ? A bust of "Alderman Beers" is mentioned by Cook in a letter of 8 Feb 1877 from Rome, NY. Son of Harlow Beers; partner in the running of the Rome Sentinel newspaper for many years starting in 1864; served in the city government as an Alderman in 1875 and 1878.)

Mr. William Henry Slingerland (ca 1877) (Location unknown)
(b. 13 Nov 1820 in Slingerlands, Albany County, NY – d. 13 May 1910 in Slingerlands, NY; buried in family vault, Slingerlands, NY along with John I. Slingerland (1804 – 1861, and member of US House of Representatives from NY in 1843 & 1844), who was William Henry’s older brother; son of John Albert and Leah (Britt) Slingerland; began as a surveyor and ultimately became a civil engineer working in both the private and public sectors; in 1841 founded and built the Delmar (NY) Reformed Dutch Church; in 1842 married first wife, Elizabeth Wayne (1818 – 1868), who produced 5 children, and in 1868 married second wife, Maria Whitbeck; in 1850 helped found the hamlet of Slingerlands, NY, an area his ancestors had developed for many years and where he served as Postmaster for over 20 years; in 1880 elected to NY state legislature as a Republican, but declined to run for subsequent terms. Separate portrait busts of Mr. and Mrs. Slingerland were mentioned in Cook letters from Rome, NY on 22 and 30 July 1877. Cook's letter noted his sitter's relation to John I. Slingerland.)

Mrs. William Henry (Maria Whitbeck) Slingerland (ca 1877) (Location unknown)
(b. 18 Oct 1832 – d. 1915; buried in Grove Cemetery, Albany, NY with her parents, Andrew and Charlotte Amelia (Bronck/Bronk) Whitbeck; married William Henry Singerland on 25 Nov 1868.)

[Special note re Dr. and the two Mrs. Kingsleys below: Cook mentions his work on Dr. Kingley’s portrait in several letters from Rome, NY (14 Sep 1879 and others undated). Progress was delayed on the painting as the artist worked on a copy of an earlier portrait of Rachel Cook, Ransom's wife. He eventually received $80 for Kingsley's portrait, which the doctor paid over time as Cook "needed it." The portrait was to go to the county fair, and Cook noted that he was planning to do one of Mrs. Kingsley in several weeks. While Cook’s letter may have been referring to Dr. Kingsley’s wife, a brief mention in the July 11, 1882 edition of the Utica, NY Morning Herald Newspaper notes: “Nelson Cook exhibits at the store of Wilson & Greenfield [Rome, NY] a fine portrait, in oil, of Mrs. Kingsley, mother of Dr. Kingsley.” Due to the uncertainty of whether Cook also painted the doctor’s wife, brief profiles of both women have been provided below following Dr. Kingsley’s biography.]

Dr. Willey Josiah Pascal Kingsley (ca 1879) (Location unknown)
(b. 9 Jul 1824 in Frankfort, NY – d. ca 25 Jan 1912; son of Obadiah and Lovinia/Lavinia (Tucker) Kingsley; studied at Whitestone Seminary near Utica, Geneva Medical College, and New York Medical College where he received his M.D. Degree in March 1855; briefly set up practice in Utica, but moved permanently to Rome, NY in 1856 where for several years he practiced general family surgery; eventually turned his fulltime attention to cancer treatment and established a cancer hospital in Rome in 1859; married Georgeanna M. Vogel/Vogell on 4 Dec 1860 and had three boys, two of whom went to Yale and then Harvard Medical School; by 1896 had an international reputation with over 40,000 cancer treatments to his name; bred horses in his spare time and held a number of private and civil positions over the years, including president of the Bank of Rome and later the Farmers’ National Bank; vice president of the Central New York Institution for Deaf Mutes in Rome from 1875-1895, when he was elected president, president of both the old Rome Iron Works and the Rome Brass and Copper Company, vice president of both the Rome Cemetery Association and the Jervis Literary Association, and Republican mayor of strongly Democratic Rome from 1895-1899; obtained a patent on 2 May 1899 for a condensation-free skylight; died in 1912 with an estate valued in excess of $350,000.)

Mrs. Lovinia/Lavinia (Tucker) Kingsley (ca 1879) (Location unknown)
(b. 19 Jul 1798 in Herkimer County NY – d. 12 Mar 1875 in Rome, NY; daughter of Josiah Pascal and Lucy (Dougherty) Tucker and mother of Dr. Willey J.P. Kingsley.)

Mrs. Georgeanna (Vogel/Vogell) Kingsley (ca 1879) (Location unknown)
(b. unknown – d. un known; married Dr. Willey J.P. Kingsley on 4 December 1860. Involved with charitable causes for poor children in the Rome, NY area.)

Marion Cook (Ellenwood) (Date of original portrait unknown; restored by Cook in 1879) (Location unknown)
(b late 1830s, Canada - d. 1927, Saratoga, NY; Nelson Cook's daughter. The original work suffered water damage from a leaky parlor roof, and his efforts to restore it are noted in a letter to Ransom from Rome, NY (14 Sep 1879). The photo was taken (date unknown) as the portrait hung in the home of a Cook descendant. An undated (c. 1885) newspaper article noted that two portraits of Marion were in Cook's Saratoga Springs studio, but it is unclear if this was one of them. See
Biography for more information on Marion.)


Courtesy of H.A. Eastman

Rev. Dr. James Henry Taylor (1881) (Location unknown)
(b. ? - d. 1907 in Rome, NY; a brief article in the July 4, 1881 Utica (NY) Morning Herald Newspaper mentioned that Cook's portrait of Rev. Dr. Taylor was being exhibited at the James & Armstrong Bookstore in Rome, NY; during the 1860s pastor of the Presbyterian Church in New Rochelle, NY where his son Robert L. Taylor was born in 1861; moved to Chicago in 1869 to accept a call and in 1876 moved to Rome, NY to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church where he published a book entitled Historical Discourse in 1888 and remained until1899. It is unclear from the record if Rev. Taylor left Rome in 1899 or simply retired from his church position at this time.)

Louis Glesmann (family name Gleasman) (1882?) (Location unknown)
(b. 4 Oct 1837 - d. 14 Dec 1904; born in Pirmasens (Bavaria) Germany; immigrated to New York City in 1852 and entered the bakery trade; moved to West Leyden (Lewis County), NY in 1854 where he was a merchant for 20 years and postmaster for two; moved to Rome, NY in 1874 where he purchased the Armstrong Block and ran a wholesale and retail flour and feed business until 1878 at which time he and his brother-in-law built the Glesmann-Hower Business Block in Rome; involved with several Rome civic organizations and was a director of the Farmers' National Bank in Rome; married twice: first to Rosa Hower from 1866 to 1891 (one son, Louis), then to Amelia Hammann; a brief mention in the October 18, 1882 Utica (NY) Observer Newspaper stated that Cook's portrait of Louis Gleasman [sic] was being exhibited in one of Wilson & Greenfield's show windows in Rome, NY.)

John Bloomfield Jervis (1885) (Location unknown)
(b. 14 Dec 1795, Huntington, NY - d. 12 Jan 1885, Rome, NY; well-known American civil engineer after whom Port Jervis, NY is named; among his many engineering feats: became lead engineer on the Erie Canal's center section in 1819, named chief engineer for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company in 1827, designed the famed Stourbridge Lion railroad steam locomotive, which was the first locomotive to be operated in US in 1829, appointed chief engineer for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad in 1831, designed the first 4-2-0 steam locomotive, which was called the Jervis type in his honor, named chief engineer for construction of the Croton Aqueduct (1842-1965), which provided fresh water for NYC, built the Boston Aqueduct in 1846, and was the lead engineer with many other railroading concerns before retiring in 1864, when he devoted his time to writing. Upon his death, he willed his personal residence to Rome, NY to be used as a public library, which is still utilized today as the repository for all of Jervis's designs and papers. Cook's portrait was commissioned by Jervis just before the engineer's death in January 1885, and the painting wasn't completed until some months later. The portrait was a life-size bust, which an undated newspaper article described in this way: "And it is not only life size, but lifelike as well. The blending of the colors in the light and shade is exquisite, but better even than this is the expression, without which the best work of art would be a failure. When we reflect that the artist years ago passed 'the allotted age of man,' we can but wonder at the keenness of sight and delicacy of touch which enable him to accomplish such a work as this.")

Honorable Cyrus Dan Prescott (1885) (Location unknown)
(b. 15 Aug 1836, New Hartford, NY - d. 23 Oct 1902, Rome, NY; buried in Sauquoit Valley Cemetery near Clayville, NY; graduated Utica Free Academy and studied law in Utica and Rome; admitted to Oneida County, NY Bar 1859; practiced law in Rome 1860-1865; traveled the south and west US 1865-1866. married Eliza Fidelia Cady 26 Jun 1867 and fathered 7 children; spent one year in NYC as a financial clerk for a wholesale company before returning to Rome 1868 to practice law once again as an attorney for the NY Central Railroad Company for the next 30+ years; served on the Rome Board of Alderman 1874-1876 and in the NY State Assembly 1878; served two terms as a Republican in the US Congress 1879 -1883, and chose not to seek a third term. An 1885 newspaper article describes Prescott's portrait as follows: "The execution is excellent. The canvass is 25X30 inches and gives ample room for a life-size portrait above the waist. The painting represents Mr. Prescott in a sitting posture. At his right a portion of a crimson velvet seat protrudes, while at his left there is a small cylindrical pillar. Mr. Cook has spent considerable time upon the work, and it is one of his best efforts. The softness of the shadings and the exquisite blending of colors are beautiful. Mr. Cook is [78 years old], and although he has long since passed the meridian of life, his hand lacks none of its grace and skillfulness in touching, and his taste has even improved. It is valued at $500. Mr. Cook has won considerable renown as a portrait artist.")

Lemuel Bush Pike (1890) (Private collection, Tennessee)
(b. 7 Apr 1820 Fort Ann [Washington County], NY - d. 23 Aug 1905, Saratoga, NY; well-respected attorney from Saratoga County, NY.; son of Matthias A. and Sarah [Bush] Pike; who at various times held such positions as Justice of the Peace for Saratoga Springs [1853 - at least 1855], Saratoga Springs Postmaster [5 Oct 1866 - 8 Mar 1867], and Saratoga County District Attorney; Pike apparently was an avid sportsman --- not only was he a champion angler, who often fished the St. Lawrence River, Pike also was a charter director of the Interlaken Golf and Country Club of Interlaken Park, NY.; married Mary Elizabeth Bottum on 27 Jan 1859 in Orwell, VT and had two children --- William L. Pike and Emma Clark Pike. The portrait is signed and dated on reverse. Its 1890 date is especially significant in that it represents the most recent work known to have been painted by Cook, who obviously was very proud that he was still producing portraits of prominent Saratoga locals at the age of 81. And proud he should have been, as this painting is a fine example of a mature Mr. Cook at his very best. Portrait Dimensions 25.5"x30.5"; Frame Dimensions 36"x40")

Dr. Edward Herbert Bemis (ca 1888-1892?) (Location unknown)
(b. 4 Apr 1849, Bethel, VT - d. 9 Dec 1901, Glens Falls, NY; son of Enoch and Abigail (Bugbee) Bemis; in 1872 married Marion E. French of Burlington, VT and had six children; initially became an optician, and then studied eye diseases in New York City with Dr. Rowland B. Gray, nationally-known president of the Long Island Medical Society; settled in Glens Falls in 1872 and became quite successful treating diseases of the eye in Glens Falls, Utica, and by 1887 at branch offices in Boston and New York City; in 1893 started construction of the Bemis Eye Sanitarium in Glens Falls, which by 1896 was a multi-building complex providing over 58,000 treatments for cataracts, glaucoma, eye scars, detached retinas, and a wide variety of other eye disorders using Bemis’s patented “Magnetic Vaporizer” to administer the “absorption method” of treatment; died in late 1901 and shortly thereafter the Bemis Eye Sanitarium closed its doors.)


Shown above is a photo-engraving of what Dr. Bemis purported to be an “exact reproduction” of a portrait painted by Nelson Cook, who “was past 80 years of age” (i.e., sometime between late 1888 and Cook’s death in mid-1892). Although this image was used in advertising for the Bemis Eye Sanitarium, the actual existence of Cook’s original portrait cannot be authenticated. See Nelson Cook and Dr. Bemis (ca 1888 – ca 1897)

John Willard (date?) (The Saratoga Springs History Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY)
(b. 20 May 1792, Guilford, CT - d. 31 Aug 1862, Saratoga Springs, NY; graduated from Vermont’s Middlebury College in 1813, and while matriculating lived with his aunt, Emma Hart Willard, who in 1814 founded what is today the Emma Willard School for girls in Troy, NY so that young women would have the same educational opportunities as her nephew, John; studied law and admitted to the New York State Bar in 1817; first practiced law in Washington County, NY, where for many years he was a common pleas judge and surrogate; in 1829 married Eliza Smith, who in 1830 bore one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth [Fowler]; became circuit judge and vice-chancellor of the Fourth Judicial district in 1836 when Esek Cowen was elevated to the NY Supreme Court; in 1846 he himself was appointed to the NY Supreme Court, where he served until his retirement in 1854 [including two years with Reuben Walworth], after which he wrote several well-respected legal treatises; in 1856 asked by President Franklin Pierce to examine the validity of California’s Spanish and Mexican land grants; also in 1856 elected to the first Board of Directors of the Commercial Bank of Saratoga Springs; sat on the Board of Directors for the Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad in 1859/1860; elected to the NY state senate as an unopposed Democrat in 1861. The oval portrait of Judge Willard is signed on reverse in the artist’s typical elaborate hand: “Painted by Nelson Cook. Saratoga Springs, N.Y.” The painting displays especially skilled brushstrokes in the sitter’s face and hair, which serve to convey a man of great distinction and strong character. And in classic Cook form, the artist has added two of his trademark features to the painting: a red seat and architectural column --- see Thomas Jefferson Marvin [1839] and Rev James Bradford [1847]. In 1978 the portrait was relined and restored to repair a tear and to remove grime, ink spatters, and drip marks. The painting was donated to the SSHM by Milford Lester, a relative of Judge Willard.)


Courtesy of The Saratoga Springs History Museum

John Calvin Hulbert (date?) (Location unknown)
(b. 12 Feb 1817 in Pittsford, VT- d. 20 Jan 1901 in Saratoga Springs, NY; buried in Greenridge Cemetery, Saratoga Springs, NY; son of Luther and Tamar [Rand] Hulbert; in 1848 married Mrs. Sarah Cross (1822 - 1863) with whom he had one daughter (Jennie Hulbert) and one adopted daughter (Sarah Jane Clark) and married again in 1866 to [Katherine] Amanda Benedict (1836 - ca 1920s) with whom he had another daughter (Mary Vernon Hulbert, known as Mamie); initially trained as a printer and apprenticed at the Ball Spa Gazette and then studied law with Thomas Jefferson Marvin and others; admitted to the Bar of Common Pleas in 1836 and of the NY Supreme Court in 1839; served as Saratoga County Surrogate Court Judge from 1847 to 1856; practiced law in at least two of his own firms: Ellsworth and Hulbert (1844) and Hulbert and Henning (1878); as a NY State Elector in 1856, he voted for Republican John C. Fremont for President; served three terms as County Judge from 1863 to1871; member of the Saratoga Board of Education from 1871 to 1875 and served as President during his final year; trustee of Union Savings Bank (1873) and Temple Grove Seminary [now Skidmore College] (1878); delegate to NY Republican State Convention in 1874 and 1876.)

Mrs. Abram/Abraham (Abby Rogers) Fort (dates?) (Old Fort House Museum, Fort Edward, NY)
(b. 16 May 1803, Fort Edward, NY - d. 21 Jun 1873, Washington County, NY; buried Rogers family plot, Moreau, NY-- grave marker reads: "A perfect woman, nobly planned; to warm, to comfort, and command"; daughter of James and Betsey Berry Rogers Cowen and niece of Judge Halsey Rogers; married Col. Abram/Abraham J. Fort (1799-1864), for whom the Old Fort House was named. Cook was involved with two portraits of Abby, one as a younger woman on the below left and then some years later as an older woman on the right. The older rendition of Abby represents the only known Cook portrait that the artist didnÕt initiate. As stated on the acquisition documentation: "This picture, commenced by B. F. Eddy, and wholly remodelled [sic] and finished by Nelson Cook, Saratoga Springs." Perhaps Cook also added his signature red seat to Eddy's original composition to underscore his role in the portrait's completion. A color photograph of the painting was donated to the Fort Edward Historical Association in 1988 by Edward Henry Bennett in memory of his grandmother, Abby Rogers Clark, who was a niece of Abby Rogers Fort. The original portrait is still part of the Rogers Family collection.)

Dr. James Taylor (date?) (Old Fort House Museum, Fort Edward, NY)
(b. 1809 in Bainbridge, Ross County, OH - d. 12 Jun 1881 in Cincinnati, OH; buried Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH; son of Joseph Taylor and Jane Irwin Taylor; in 1826 began study with Dr. John Harris of Bainbridge to be a medical doctor, but after one year when Dr. Harris switched to the practice of dentistry, Taylor followed suit with his studies, and the two formed a dental partnership; in 1830 entered Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where he earned his M.D. degree and then set up practice back in Bainbridge; soon after, in 1834, began devoting full time to dentistry and then moved to Crawfordsville, IN and became a charter member of the American Society of Dental Surgeons in 1839; moved to Cincinnati in 1842 and established a permanent dental practice; in 1843 the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery granted him the honorary degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery; obtained a charter for the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1845 and became the school's dean, where he taught until retiring in 1863 and during which time he was involved in the leadership of many dental societies and published many articles in dental journals; married three times: R. Maria Applegate (1838), Belle P. McMaster (1859), and Susan Abby Rogers (1876), who was a great niece of Halsey Rogers, a niece of Abby Rogers Fort, and also kin of Harper Rogers. This portrait is unsigned and undated, but has been attributed to Cook by the Old Fort Museum based on its style and Susan Abby Rogers's direct family connection to three of the artist's known sitters.)

Mrs. Benjamin Franklin Potter (Mary Smith) (date?) (Private collection)
(Portrait noted by the Frick Gallery, 1972, via Historical Society of Saratoga Springs.)

John Edward McCullough (date?) (Location unknown)
(b. 14 Nov 1832, Coleraine, Ireland - d. 8 Nov 1885, Philadelphia, PA; American actor who immigrated to US in 1849; supported Edwin Forrest and Edwin Booth in a number of secondary Shakespearean roles; suffered from general paresis and committed to NYC's Bloomingdale Asylum in 1884 and later moved to a Philadelphia asylum where he died; another "urban legend" account claims McCullough was murdered at Washington, D.C.'s National Theater by an acting acquaintance, with his body buried by the cast and crew in the theater's basement beneath the stage, and whose ghost still haunts the premises. An undated (c. 1885) newspaper article stated Cook had painted McCullough as Cincinnatus in 1833, but given the actor's birth year, this was obviously misreported.)

Mrs. J.C. Smith (date?) (Location unknown)
(b. ? - d. ?; a short piece in the June 1, 1884 Utica (NY) Sunday Tribune Newspaper mentioned that Cook’s portrait of Mrs. J.C. Smith was on display at the James & Armstrong Bookstore in Rome, NY. Mr. Smith was the owner of a Rome dry goods store from at least 1870 – 1885 and perhaps later.)

Unidentified woman (date?) (Location unknown)
(Sold at auction for $1-2K in September 2001)

Portrait of a Man (date?) (Location unknown)
(Sold from Sotheby's Arcade, 24 Jan 1989, for $4687. Portrait noted by www.askart.com. B&W image of this portrait could be seen here as of May 2003)

Portrait of a Girl (date?) (Private collection, California)
(This charming portrait still retains its vibrant colors. The red upholstered chair on which the girl sits is similar to many of Cook’s other portraits [see Maria Ketchum Averill Walworth (1841), Susan English (1845), Mrs. Naramore (1855), and Reuben Hyde Walworth (jr) (1858)]. But unlike many of Cook’s other paintings, which are characterized by sitters with “tubular” arms and fingers, Cook has made a concerted attempt here to model the girl’s right arm with three-dimensional shading. While Cook inscribed most of his known paintings on reverse, the artist signed this portrait on the front at lower left.[See Susan (Bellows) Sowles (1871?), which Cook also signed on the front, but at lower right.] Following the artist’s signature is the word “pinxit,” Latin for “he painted this,” which Cook also used on at least one other painting. [See Rev James Bradford (1847).] There are a few minor unpatched chips in the paint, and crazing [small, interlacing cracks in finished surface] is evident throughout the portrait. Also, when the painting is viewed under a blacklight in the unopened frame, 25/30% of the surface has been overpainted, mostly in the background areas. The portrait’s stretchers are original to the piece, or are of the same period as the painting. The same is true of the frame, which in some areas has been gilt painted over old damage. Dimensions: 35.5” X 30”. Sold at auction in March 2007 for $732.)


Portrait of a Child (date?) (New York State Museum, Albany, NY)
(b. ? - d. ?; attributed to Cook by the state of New York, which acquired the painting in 2004 as part of the Bailey-Deyo Family Collection; General Samuel Baily (without the "e") of Greenfield, NY (5 miles from Saratoga Springs) served with Washington during the Revolutionary War; although unidentified, the sitter may be one of the daughters of Samuel Bailey (the general's son, who spelled his name with the "e") and Charity ("Cherry") Bailey: Harriett (Hattie) E. Bailey (13 Jan 1845 - 15 Feb 1890) or Marion Cook Bailey Easton (May 1849 - Jun 1921), who seems to have been named after the Cooks only child, Marion. Nelson and his wife were friends of the Bailey family and the Cooks are each known to have communicated by letter with Hattie within a few years of her death in the late 1880s. This undated portrait evokes a slightly more primitive style than is evident with the other children painted by Cook in the mid to late 1850s (see Charles Miller Williams/Boy with Hobby Horse/"Hobby Gray" and the Walworth Children), suggesting this charming portrait dates from a somewhat earlier time in the artist's career. Since Charity Bailey's portrait is known to have been done by Cook in 1848, this painting may have been commissioned at about the same time, which would point to the child's identity as three-year-old Hattie Bailey. But it is also possible this portrait was not painted until 1852-1853 when Marion Bailey would have been 3-4 years of age. While the portrait is only attributed to Cook, the painting seems to hold a clue to the artist's identity. Couldn't the red play table setting to the rear of the child's left elbow be an appropriate substitute for the red upholstered seat found in many of Cook's adult portraits?)