Cooke Family Paper Cuts

Five Booklets


The art of paper-cutting was made fashionable during the late eighteenth century by Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter of George III. An enthusiastic and skilled cutter, the Princess cut images of children and animals from glossy black paper; she also created an album of miniature cut scenes to illustrate the popular poem ‘The Birth & Triumph of Cupid’.

Armed with tiny sharp scissors and/or pointed quill knives, the Cooke children were inspired during 1807-8 to have a go at paper-cutting. Using glossy black paper, they chose to cut mostly birds and deer alongside some figures and a few more exotic animals such as a wild boar, a tiger and a crocodile most probably based on book plates. Each child pasted their cuttings into a personal notebook, the front cover inscribed with the owner’s name: Mary Frances, Julia, Maria Diana and Anthony Henry Cooke.

The siblings were the children of Colonel Bryan Cooke and his heiress wife Frances Puleston of Hafod-y-Wern. Cooke was a Member of Parliament and High Sheriff for Denbighshire; Frances was an advocate of education for the poor.

The eldest child, Mary Frances, was born in 1788 so she would have been nineteen when she filled 10 pages of her booklet mostly with birds, deer and goats. She went on to marry and have a large family of her own.

Julia was born in 1792 so she was sixteen when she filled 13 pages of her booklet with birds, wild boar and a tiger. Julia died in 1811, aged just nineteen.

Maria Diana was born in 1796 so she was eleven when she filled 9 pages of her booklet with scenes and tiny animals. Maria died in 1813, aged just sixteen.

Anthony Henry was born in 1801 so he was just six when he filled 18 pages of his booklet with birds and animals including an elephant and a tiny crocodile.

A fifth booklet, partially filled with classical figures and a few animals, was compiled by Lady Milnes. Charlotte Milnes (née Bentinck) was a family friend. Her portrait (now in The Met) was painted by society artist George Romney as were the portraits of Bryan and Frances Cooke, the latter also now in The Met.

With light dust-soiling to the outer covers, the booklets are in good condition. There is some browning and old gum marks to some pages as to be expected.

Item Ref. 6473

Size: each booklet, 200mm high