Cook spent his childhood in Melbourne, having arrived in 1852, and studied at the National Gallery School under both Chevalier and von Guérard. Following his return to England in 1873, he led a long career as a traditional landscape watercolourist, showing at the RA and elsewhere. Late in life, he published an anti-modernist diatribe, Retrogression in Art and the Suicide of the Royal Academy (1924).
In 1957, the SLV purchased another watercolour by Cook, dated 1894, showing the beach at Dromana, near Melbourne; this was presumably painted during a return visit to Australia. There are other examples of his work in the AGNSW.
For the artist, see Kerr Dictionary (1992), p.172 (entry by Joanna Mendelssohn & Joan Kerr); Mallalieu (1976), p.66; Bénézit3, pp.1338-39; and AKL 21 (1999), p.43. For the watercolour in the SLV (acc.no.H18071), see SLV online catalogue (with details and a reproduction); refer also AGNSW online catalogue