Robin Cook with Tammy and Tasker by Fionna Carlisle, 2005
Fionna Carlisle, born in Wick, Caithness, Scotland, studied at Edinburgh College of Art and went on to win the Andrew Grant post-graduate scholarship at Edinburgh Col of Art. Of this painting Carlisle commented; \'Robin was a joy to paint-a challenging and rewarding sitter. He was witty and easy company and was generous with his time. I think he valued the time as an opportunity to reflect quietly and catch up with thoughts….He wanted his smile in the portrait to show a happy and contented man, which is how he felt\'.
Robin Cook, Labour MP, was Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2001. Reported to be one of the cabinet\'s chief opponents of military action against Iraq, Cook resigned from his post as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council on 17 March 2003 in protest. In August 2005, whilst climbing Ben Stack Mountain in Scotland, Cook suffered a major Heart attack and after being taken by helicopter to hospital was pronounced dead. Buried at Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh in 2007 a headstone was erected reading: "I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of parliament to decide on war”.
The Portrait of The Rt Hon Robin Cook MP was painted during the months before his death in August 2005. It depicts the parliamentarian informally, with his two dogs Tammy and Tasker (named after the whiskies Tamdhu and Talisker). Cook chose to wear his racing clothes and the background includes two prominent Edinburgh references, Musselburgh Racecourse and the Firth of Forth. The Hansard he holds has the date of his resignation from the cabinet on 17 March 2003.