An Exceptional Original Full-Length Portrait of "Peter" by Alfred Egerton Cooper (1883-1974), RBA.


Origin: English
Period: Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1940
Canvas Height: 45 inches
Canvas Width: 19 inches

Painted in oils, on canvas, depicting a youthful boy full-length, with tousled hair, rosy lips and ruddy cheeks, his hands in pockets, wearing a blue frock coat. He stands against a neutral, but tonally rich white background, his shadow cast to his right. The painting is signed “A.E. Cooper” in the lower right corner.

The quality of execution in this painting is undoubtedly of a high standard. The deftness of brush-strokes around the cheeks and eyes, the present but not overbearing use of impasto, and the play of light around the face all combine to create a wonderful expression. He looks calm, and intelligent; yet also young, and slightly awkward, his fists in his pockets perhaps a suggestion of childish petulance. The expertly rendered shadows in the folds of the coat create a lovely contrast and fullness, and the little shoes and cotton socks are undeniably cute.

The painting is presented in its original ornate wooden gilt frame, on the back of which is an original exhibition label for the Artists of Chelsea,  detailing the title of the painting and the address of the artist, as well as an exhibition number “311”, possibly for the Summer Royal Academy Exhibition of 1940.  Also pasted onto the back is another exhibition label fragment, and an early Chapman Brother's framer's label. The presence of the original frame with these labels is not just reassuring in terms of provenance, but also because we see the painting presented as originally intended.

Cooper is an artist of renown, especially for portraits, his other sitters included King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II,  and to greatest acclaim, Winston Churchill. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the RSA, Manchester City Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, the Paris salon, and elsewhere. As a student Cooper spent over a year assisting John Singer Sargent in Chelsea, and after 1918 was appointed the official war artist to the Royal Air Force. He was elected a member of the Royal British Artists in 1923, and his work is represented in the National Portrait Gallery and the Government Art Collection.