Mr. Abraham Cowley.

Tags: Authors & Artists.
Mr. Abraham Cowley.
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A half length portrait, enclosed in an octagonal frame, of the poet and co-founder of the Royal Society Abraham Cowley (1618-67). The son of a stationer, Cowley published his first volume of poetry Poetical Blossoms in 1633 at the age of fifteen. In 1638 he went on to write a pastoral drama and a Latin comedy, Naufragium Ioculare (1638), when only twenty. During the Civil War, the Parliamentarians deprived Cowley of his Cambridge fellowship, but he had already left Cambridge to join the King at Oxford and, in 1644, followed Queen Henrietta Maria to France as her secretary. His first collection of verse, The Mistress: or, Several Copies of Love Verses was published in 1647. Upon his return to England in 1654, Cowley was imprisoned, but even after his release he seems to have worked as a Royalist spy. He began studying medicine at Oxford, becoming an MD in 1657. Cowley's fellowship at Cambridge was reinstated at the Restoration, and Henrietta Maria granted him land. Thereafter,Cowley lived in retirement at Chertsey, writing essays and studying botany. Cowley was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside Chaucer and Spenser. However, while he enjoyed high esteem during his lifetime, sadly his reputation declined with the years. Although he influenced Swift, and was also the first subject of Johnson's The Lives of the Poets, his fame was not lasting. Already Alexander Pope asked “Who now reads Cowley?” The answer then was probably what it is today: very few.
The engraver William Faithorne the elder (1616-91), studied first under William Peake, painter to Charles I, and after working with him for three years he became a pupil of John Payne, and subsequently of Sir Robert Peake. On the outbreak of the civil war Faithorne joined the Royalist army, and together with his master and Wenceslaus Hollar was besieged at Basing House, the residence of the Marquis of Winchester. At its surrender he was made prisoner of war and confined in Aldersgate, and on his release he was banished for refusing to take the oath to Oliver Cromwell. He escaped to France where he studied under Nanteuil, but in 1650 he was allowed to return to England, where he married and lived at Temple Bar. Faithorne’s engraving shared many characteristics with his friend Hollar, each possessing an unmistakeable delicacy and surety of line, and after his death Thomas Flatman, in a poem in memory of his friend, wrote:
A Faithorne Sculpsit is a charm can save
From dull oblivion, and a gaping grave.