Frank Cadogan Cowper’s biography, net worth, fact, career, awards and life story

IntroBritish artist
Was Painter 
From United Kingdom 
Type Arts 
Birth 16 October 1877
Death 17 November 1958
(aged 81 years)

Frank Cadogan Cowper RA (16 October 1877 – 17 November 1958) was an English painter and illustrator of portraits, historical and literary scenes, described as “The last of the Pre-Raphaelites”.

Life and work

Cowper was born in Wicken, Northamptonshire, son of an author and early pioneer of coastal cruising in yachts, Frank Cowper, and grandson of the Rector of Wicken. He first studied art at St John’s Wood Art School in 1896 and then went on to study at the Royal Academy Schools from 1897-1902. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899, and achieved critical success two years later with his An Aristocrat answering the Summons to Execution, Paris 1791 (1901). In 1902, he spent six months studying under Edwin Austin Abbey before travelling to Italy.

He worked in both watercolours and oils, and also worked as book illustrator – providing the illustrations for Sir Sidney Lee’s The Imperial Shakespeare. He contributed to a mural in the Houses of Parliament in 1910 along with Byam Shaw, Ernest Board and Henry Arthur Payne.

As art fashion changed Cowper increasingly exhibited his portrait paintings but still continued to produce historical and literary works.

He retired from London to Gloucestershire. His The Ugly Duckling was voted the favourite painting by visitors to the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum in 2005.

The record price for a Cowper painting at sale is £469,250 for “Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth” (1917) at Christie’s in London on 17 December 2011.

Professional memberships

  • Royal Watercolour Society (Associate 1904, Full member 1911).
  • Royal Academy (Associate 1907, Full member 1934).
  • ^
  • Image of The Ugly Duckling
  • “Moment I went back in time and met Myself”, Daily Express, 3 April 2008
  • Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 19 December 2011<