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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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Thomas Matthews
Rooke
artist
born 1842- died 1942

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Biographical Information

An Unsung Hero of Victorian Art

Thomas Mathews Rooke was born in London. He attended the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. Rooke painted landscapes, architectural drawings, biblical subjects, and portraits mainly in watercolour. For many years he spent his summers on mainland Europe, producing architectural drawings of cathedrals for John Ruskin. He also worked as a studio assistant for Burne Jones, and during the last three years of Burne Jones’s life used his excellent recall to record their conversations in his studio.

When the painter died suddenly in the summer of 1898, the faithful Rooke gave this record to the widow of the painter Georgiana. These conversations form a valuable and unique record of the working life of the painter, of his personality, and gifts as a conversationalist. They also show that Rooke himself was an interesting personality, witty, gentle, and self-depreciating. It is also worth mentioning that he could have had his record of these conversations published on his own account, and to his commercial advantage. Thomas Rooke married Leonora Jane Jones. They had a son and daughter. The son Noel 1881-1953 was a painter, engraver, book decorator, and poster designer.

Thomas Rooke died on the 27th of July 1942 in his hundredth year. He and his wife resided at 7 Queen Anne’s Gardens, Bedford Park, London W4.

  • Permission to reprint this biography was kindly granted by Paul Ripley, at Victorian Art in Britain.

  • The Story of Ruth

    1876-1877
    Oil on canvas
    66 x 39 cm
    (25.98" x 15.35")
    Tate Gallery (London, United Kingdom)

    Added: 2002-08-01
    The Story of Ruth
    An Idyll

    1881
    Oil on canvas
    49.8 x 62.5 cm
    (19.61" x 24.61")
    Public collection

    Added: 2005-12-01
    An Idyll
    A London Garden

    -1904
    Oil On Canvas
    66.7 x 48.6 cm
    (26.26" x 19.13")
    Private collection

    Added: 2010-03-18