State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 30 December 1982


The Ballerstedt Brothers by A.C. Cooke


A Note on Albert Charles Cooke

The Ballerstedt painting, recently purchased for the La Trobe Collection, is one of the few documented oil paintings by Albert Charles Cooke, a draftsman and watercolourist who is best known for his newspaper illustrations, particularly a series of bird's eye views. Cooke was born in the United Kingdom in 1836. After studying with the popular drawing teacher, John Duffield Harding1 who also taught Ruskin, Cooke emmigrated to Australia in 1854. He opened business as a draftsman in St. Kilda and furthered his studies with Nicholas Chevalier.2 The La Trobe Collection holds a finely executed pencil drawing of Melbourne from this period.3 Throughout his career Cooke worked as a newspaper illustrator with the Illustrated Australian News, the Leader and other papers, travelling extensively in the course of this work. During the 1890s he spent considerable time in Western Australia and three watercolours of Western Australian scenes are held by the West Australian Art Gallery.4 He also illustrated books, including the Illustrated Handbook of Victoria, published in 1886. Cooke was a member of the Council of the Victorian Academy of Arts from its inception in 1870 until 1873. He continued to exhibit with the Academy until 1879.5 Although not a professional architect, he continued to work as a draftsman and was a fellow of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects.6 He died in April 1902 at his residence in Albert Park. An obituary in the Argus describes him as “a refined and cultured gentleman”.7


R.V.I.A. Journal, March 1903, p.13.


Argus 14 April 1902, p.4.


Reference LT341.


Western Australian Art Gallery Bulletin v.1, no.4, 1962.


V.A.A. Exhibition Catalogues 1870–79.


R.V.I.A. Journal, op.cit.


Argus, op.cit.