Cooper, Samuel (1609-1672) (DNB00)

COOPER, SAMUEL (1609–1672), miniature painter, was born in London in 1609. He was a nephew of John Hoskins, who was eminent in the reign of Charles I as a painter of miniatures, and by whom he and his brother Alexander were instructed in the same branch of art. Samuel soon surpassed his uncle, who is said to have been jealous of him. Horace Walpole says that he ‘owed a great part of his merit to the works of Van Dyck, and yet may be called an original genius, as he was the first who gave the strength and freedom of oil to miniature.’ His heads excel in the variety of their tints and in the management of the hair, but the drawing of the neck and shoulders is often so incorrect as to afford grounds for the conjecture that it was for this reason that so many of his works were left unfinished. For many years he resided in the then fashionable locality of Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, and allusion is made to him in the ‘Diary’ of his friend Samuel Pepys, who calls him ‘the great limner in little.’ He was induced to visit France, where he remained some time, and painted portraits on a somewhat enlarged scale. He afterwards visited Holland. He died in London 5 May 1672, aged 63, and was buried in the old church of St. Pancras, where there is a mural monument to his memory. He was an excellent linguist and musician, and played well on the lute. Some verses ‘To Mr. Sam. Cooper, having taken Lucasia's Picture given December 14, 1660,’ are in a folio volume of ‘Poems by Mrs. Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda,’ published in London in 1667. His widow, whose sister was the mother of Alexander Pope, received a pension from the French court, and was promised one by the court of England, but the latter was never paid. Cooper is the most eminent painter of miniatures that England has produced, and his works are much sought after. He painted Oliver Cromwell several times; the profile in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire being that from which Houbraken engraved his portrait. One of his best works is a fine head of Cromwell in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch, and another profile is in the possession of Lord Houghton. The Duke of Devonshire possesses also another miniature of Cromwell, and one of Mrs. Claypole, the favourite daughter of the Protector; and the Duke of Buccleuch has in his fine collection those of Milton, Prince Rupert, James II, when duke of York, Charlotte de la Tremouille, countess of Derby, Richard Cromwell, Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of the Protector, Mrs. Claypole, John Thurloe, Lucius Cary, lord Falkland, George Monck, duke of Albemarle, James Graham, marquis of Montrose, and Samuel Butler. In the royal collection there are miniatures of Charles II, Queen Catharine of Braganza, James II, James, duke of Monmouth, George Monck, duke of Albemarle, and Robert Walker, the portrait painter. Cooper painted many other celebrated persons of the Commonwealth and the succeeding reign, including John Hampden, General Ireton, General Fleetwood, William Lenthall, Colonel Lilburne, Thomas Hobbes, Anthony Ashley Cooper, first earl of Shaftesbury, and Edmund Waller, the poet. Some of these are in the possession of the Duke of Northumberland and the Earl of Gosford, while others are at Althorp, Burleigh, Castle Howard, and Penshurst. Those which were in the collection of Sir Andrew Fountaine were destroyed by fire at White's chocolate house in 1733. Many miniatures by him were lent to the Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures held at the South Kensington Museum in 1865, and to the Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters at the Royal Academy in 1879. A head of Cooper from an original drawing by himself was engraved by Raddon for Wornum's edition of Walpole's ‘Anecdotes of Painting.’

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum, 1849, ii. 529; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Cat. of Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures at South Kensington, 1865; Royal Academy Cat. Old Masters, 1879.]

R. E. G.