Abraham Cooper RA1767-1868
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Abraham Cooper RA1767-1868

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Portrait of a favourite Bay held by a black groom in a landscape


Oil painting on canvas 25 x 30 inches and contained in a fine carved and gilded Georgian frame


Painted circa 1810


Cooper’s life spans the great years of sporting painting. He lived to an astonishing 99 years of age: when he was born, Stubbs was establishing his reputation as the greatest of English painters; when he died, Landseer was retiring from painting. His work thus spans both the greatest of the Georgian and the best of the Victorian, and he has a place of especial honour amongst the sporting painters of this Golden Age.

He was prolific: 189 of his painting were engraved for the Sporting Magazine; he sent 332 paintings to the Royal Academy, and another 87 to other London Exhibition venues. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career, and was amongst the most popular painter of equine and canine portraiture, with an exalted clientele. He was popularly known as the “English Horace Vernet”.

The vigour of his drawing is rooted in the classical age to which he was born, but the high and lustrous “finish” on his paintings presages the work of Herring, (who was his pupil), Landseer and the high Victorians.

The present painting shows the artist in his prime (he was already probably in his 40’s when it was painted) and illustrates the uncommonly fine technique which he employed. The subject matter of a favourite horse and groom is commonplace in Georgian sporting painters; it is unusual, but not rare, that the groom should be black.