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Joseph Teal Cooper 1682-1743
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Joseph Teal Cooper 1682-1743

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An allegory of Autumn: a still life assemblage of fruits: black and white grapes, pear, plums melon, plums, peaches pomegranates and figs on a bank, with distant views of a mountain in evening light.

 

Oil painting on canvas 34 x 52 inches, and contained in its original Georgian carved giltwood frame with raking-knull edge. Overall framed size 44 x 62 inches

 

Signed lower centre right

 

Provenance: from a private collection in north Dorset.

 

Painted circa 1725

 

Joseph Teal Cooper was born in Burford, Oxfordshire in 1682 and died in Kings Lynn Norfolk in 1743. No details survive of his training, but he seems to be the very first professional native painter of fruit and flower still-lives1 of any substance in England. According to George Vertue (Notebooks) he was “very skilful in painting fruit and flowers”. His work today is not common, and signed paintings by him are even rarer. There can be little doubt that much of his work has been attributed to other artists (even the present painting was previously thought to be French, the signature having been overlooked). Many of his paintings have ended up in collections in Italy, presumably because his technique owed very much to the Neapolitan still-life painters of the second half of the 17th century.

 

Given the similarity of Cooper's fruit pieces to the work of such Neapolitan painters as Luca Forte, Paolo Porpora and the Netherlandish immigrant Abraham Brughel, it seems reasonable to surmise that Cooper in fact received some training in that City, though no mention of him is to be found in Brinsley Ford's Dictionary of Travellers to Italy.

 

Curiously, given the artist's prime position in English still-life painting and his consistently accomplished qualityill-life, not a single painting securely by him is in any British Art Gallery or Museum. Indeed, there is only one attributed work (an unsigned still of fruit on a shelf at Plas Newydd, (NT)) in any public collection

1Though there had been English followers of such painters as Pieter Gerrtisz Roestraten and Edwaert Collier in the seventeenth century, but these were painters of “Vanitas” still-lives of objects.