Cooke has painted self-portraits throughout her career. She has written that “sometimes I paint self-portraits to show off, sometimes to hide away in solitude, sometimes to say ‘Here I am’, sometimes to say ‘I want to be alone’. But always there is a searching for the unknown, the previously unperceived.”

In talking about this painting Cooke explained that she started work on this self-portrait wearing an old fashioned brass fireman’s helmet, but that when her husband gave the helmet away she nearly gave up. However on seeing the picture in the bay window from outside the house Cooke decided to continue, convinced that “whatever it is, it is a very strong image.”


  • Title: Blast Boadicea
  • Creator: Jean Cooke RA
  • Date Created: 1966
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Photo credit: © Royal Academy of Arts, London; photographer: John Hammond
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Royal Academy Picture Library number: PL000122
  • Physical dimensions: Height: 122 cm, width: 122 cm

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