Jean Cooke studied at Central School of Arts and Crafts, Camberwell from 1943 to 1945, Goldsmiths’ College School of Art from 1945 to 1949 and at the Royal College of Art from 1949, where she later returned as a lecturer from 1964 to 1974. She was also a member of the Academic Board of Blackheath School of Art from 1986 to 1988 and a Governor of the Central School of Art and Design from 1984 to 1986.
Cooke’s first solo exhibition was held at the Establishment Club in 1963. Subsequent solo shows include the Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford (1965), the Moyan Gallery, Manchester (1966), the New Grafton Gallery, London (1971), the Norwich Gallery (1980) and the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends, Royal Academy of Arts (1990). Her work has also been included in many group exhibitions since 1956 including Agnews (1974), the Dulwich Picture Gallery (1976), ‘British Painting 1952 to 1977’, Royal Academy of Arts (1977) and the Tate Gallery (1979). Cooke continues to be exhibited in shows around the UK.
Among Cooke’s many portrait commissions are Dr Egon Wellesz and Dr Walter Oakshott for Lincoln College, Oxford, Mrs Bennett, Principal, for St Hilda’s College. A self portrait and a portrait of her husband, the painter John Bratby, were purchased by the Chantrey Bequest in 1969 and 1972 respectively.
Cooke was elected Royal Academician in 1972 (ARA 1965) and is President of the Blackheath Art Society and the Friends of Woodlands Art Gallery, Blackheath. She lived and worked in London until her death on 6 August 2008.