COOPER, SAMUEL (1609-1672), English miniature painter. This artist was undoubtedly the greatest painter of miniatures who ever lived. He is believed to have been born in London, and was a nephew of John Hoskins, the miniature painter, by whom he was educated. He lived in Henrietta St., Covent Garden, and frequented the Covent Garden coffee-House. Pepys, who makes many references to him, tells us he was an excellent musician, playing well upon the lute, and also a good linguist, speaking French with ease. According to other contemporary writers, he was a short, stout man, of a ruddy countenance. He married one Christiana, whose portrait is at Welbeck Abbey, and he had one daughter. In 1668 he was instructed by Pepys to paint a portrait of Mrs Pepys, for which he charged £30. He is known to have painted also the portrait of John Aubrey, which was presented in 1691 to the Ashmolean Museum, as we learn from his correspondence with John Ray, the naturalist. Evelyn refers to him in 1662, when, on the occasion of the visit that the diarist paid to the king, Cooper was drawing the royal face and head for the new coinage.
Magnificent examples of his work are to be found at Windsor Castle, Belvoir Castle, Montague House, Welbeck Abbey, Ham House, the Rijks Museum at Amsterdam and in the collection of Mr J. Pierpont Morgan. His largest miniature is in the possession of the duke of Richmond and Gordon at Goodwood. A piece of the artist's handwriting is to be seen at the back of one of his miniatures in the Welbeck Abbey collection, and one of his drawings in black chalk is in the University Gallery at Oxford. His own portrait of himself is in the collection of Mr J. Pierpont Morgan.
The date of his death has been handed down by a record in the diary of Mary Beale, the miniature painter; and in some letters from Mr Charles Manners, addressed to Lord Roos, dated 1672, now amongst the duke of Rutland's papers at Belvoir, the writer refers to Cooper's serious illness on the 4th of May, and to his doubt as to whether the artist would ever recover. Mary Beale's reference to his decease is in the following words: "Sunday, May 5, 1672 - Mr Samuel Cooper, the most famous limner of the world for a face, dyed."
For a fuller account see the History of Portrait Miniatures, by G. C. Williamson, vol. i. p. 64.
(G. C. W.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)