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John Cooper (Attributed)

A Woman and Her Children by John Cooper, English, 1695-1754

Origin England
Period Pre 18th Century
Materials Oil on canvas
Dimensions
W. 17 in; H. 19 in; D. 3 in;
W. 43.18 cm; H. 48.26 cm; D. 7.62 cm;
Condition Good.
Creation Date 1724
Description Oil Portrait of A Woman and Her Children by John Cooper, English, 1695-1754.

This small work is not typical of John Cooper, although the details of the faces are characteristic, circa 1725.

This oil portrait of a woman and her two children measures 14 inches tall by 11 inches wide.

In a black and gold period frame, it measures 17 inches wide by 19 inches tall.

This excerpt from Jean Berger’s Design Book: Huguenot Tradesmen and the Dissemination of French Baroque Style places John Cooper in America for a brief time in his life. Then afterwards he returns to England to run his father's print shop.

The excerpt:

The evidence presented in Harristy’s appeal provides a picture of the tradesmen among whom Berger lived and worked. Witnesses summoned to testify included physician Laurence Delhonde, merchant Temple Nelson, pewterer Thomas Smith (1678–1742), and “Felix Powell, who lives with Cooper the Painter.” Powell’s deposition described the assault:

Felix Powell, Aged about 21 years upon his Oath being Sworne declares that Last Thursday Evening being ordered by his Master John Cooper painter to attend John Bergie, a French Painter about a peice of Painting work on board a Vessell at the Dock, but going on board met the said Bergie come from said Vessell with his Box of Paint and Brushes and he told me he would not work any Longer that night, at which time John Harristy a French man being the Same Person now present as a Defendant came up with him the said Bergie and Spoke to Each other in French, which the Deponant did not understand, and immediately the said Harristy fell upon the said Berger and struck him Severell Blows with a Stick he then had in his hand, and then in English threatened him that he would be up with him. The Plaintiff, after the Defendant had struck him, bid me take notice how he had abused him and so they parted.

Delhonde stated that he had treated Berger’s head wounds twice daily for over a month, using “Lotens, Imbrocations, fomentations, Ointments & Plaisters,” and presented a list of medical expenses totaling £5.16.6. The court upheld Harristy’s conviction, fined him an additional 20s. for the government, and released him on recognizance for good behavior for a period of one year. Rigger John Jarrard and chairmaker Samuel Mattocks, Jr., (b. 1678) provided sureties for Harristy in the amount of £25 each during the probationary period.

Powell’s master probably was New England artist J. Cooper, whom art historians have speculated was English-born artist John Cooper (ca. 1695–1754), son of London art dealer and print publisher Edward Cooper (ca. 1660–1725). Many of his paintings are signed “J. Cooper” or initialed and dated between 1714 and 1718 (fig. 2). Assuming these two painters are the same man, Berger’s suit provides the first documentary evidence of John Cooper’s presence in the colonies from 1718 to 1721.

As a French-speaking artisan in a primarily English-speaking community, Berger possibly had difficulty securing private patronage. Powell’s deposition and suits involving Berger, Cooper, and other Boston tradesmen suggest that he frequently worked as a subcontractor. In 1721, Berger sued Cooper and his partner, apothecary Thomas Creese, Jr., for failing to honor a £5 note. The court ruled against Cooper and Creese and ordered them to pay the balance due on the note, plus Berger’s legal expenses. Berger initiated another suit against Cooper later that year, but the artist failed to appear before the court. This court record is the last reference to Cooper in Boston, and it coincides with the career of the English-born artist who assumed his father’s print-selling business in London around 1725.
Styles / Movements Folk Art, Traditional
Dealer Reference Number 316906
Incollect Reference Number 335054
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