George Esten Cooke was an itinerant United States painter who specialized in portrait and landscape paintings and was one of the South's best known painters of the mid nineteenth century. His work took him throughout the Southern United States, where he primarily made his living painting portraits of both famous and ordinary people, and, by the 1840s, his portraits had earned him both financial success and regional fame.
In 1844 in New Orleans, Cooke started what would become his most important professional relationship when he met Alabama industrialist Daniel Pratt. Pratt was immediately drawn to Cooke's work, and decided to give the artist two floors in one of his warehouses for Cooke to use as a gallery and studio. After a few years, Pratt decided to take the unusual step of adding a separate gallery to his home in Prattville, Alabama, solely to house Cooke's art.
Nearly twenty years after his death, the gallery in Pratville was found to be infested with dry rot and had to be torn down to prevent the rot from spreading. As a result, all of Cooke's work housed at the gallery wound up being destroyed or dispersed.
This painting of two Alabama children has a surprising informal quality. One of the boys is missing his shoes, and the pair are holding a common toy for the time (a stick and hoop). It pays homage to the playful side of childhood.
To connect with this we made our own diy game, finger twister.
6x6in cardboard square (2)
5x1in cardboard arrow
paint or markers
George Cooke, Untitled, circa 1845. Oil on canvas. Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.
Poke a hole in the center of the arrow and one of the squares
Paint squares a background color
Paint the arrow
Draw 16 even circles on square without hole
Draw 16 circles in 4 groups of 4 and label the groups Index Finger, Thumb, Middle Finger, Third Finger
Paint your circles